In understanding Mr. Armstrong's probable role as the Elijah to come and restore all things, would it not make sense to examine the role of the first Elijah and how he did his work?
"Jesus answered and said to them, 'Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things' " (Matthew 17:11). See also Mark 9:12.
I am convinced that Mr. Armstrong was that Elijah to come and restore all things. I won't say I have proved it with 100% certainty in my mind, but the evidence of that seems very strong, even overwhelming. It would be hard for me to imagine anyone restoring more lost knowledge than he did.
But what does that mean, in detail? Does it mean everything Mr. Armstrong taught was infallibly correct? No, because we know from Church history that Mr. Armstrong made mistakes, and he himself said he made mistakes. He admitted error and corrected his own errors. He sometimes changed his own teaching, such as with Pentecost being on a Monday.
And for those who think that he never made a mistake in his teaching that he did not later correct before he died, consider his statement to the Church shortly before naming Mr. Tkach as his successor that we should follow the next pastor general if we want to be in the kingdom of God and we needed to stay united. He did not qualify that statement with, "as he follows Christ", or "as he follows the Bible". Mr. Armstrong did not make that qualification. He just said, follow him - period. But that was a mistake, for we could not follow Mr. Tkach without falling away from the truth. And Mr. Armstrong never corrected that error in the short time before he died.
If God allowed Mr. Armstrong to make mistakes in his teaching, not all of which he corrected in his lifetime, then his teachings cannot be regarded as infallible. That does not negate the good work he did in restoring lost knowledge, and it does not negate his role as the Elijah to come. The first Elijah himself no doubt made mistakes, but not in God's word that became part of the Bible, since the Bible is God's word and is infallible. Mr. Armstrong never claimed his writings were on the same level as the Bible.
How was Mr. Armstrong to fulfill his role as the Elijah to restore all things? Did he work alone or did he use a team of like-minded people to help him? And does that team continue Mr. Armstrong's work of restoring all things even after Mr. Armstrong himself is gone?
To know the answer, we can look at the first Elijah. We can look at events God has recorded in the Bible probably for the very purpose of answering our questions about Mr. Armstrong's role. God put things in the Bible for a purpose. The Bible does not record every detail of every event - it would be a much longer book if it did. God selected which details of which events to give us for our learning. He knew what questions we would be asking today, and He gave us the lessons in scripture we need in order to get the answers we need today.
The work of the first Elijah was not exactly the same as the work of the Elijah to restore all things. But God gave Elijah work to do. He gave him various tasks and assignments, and those tasks were God's work in Elijah's day same as restoring lost truth and preaching the gospel to the public was God's work in Mr. Armstrong's day.
One of those tasks was to anoint Jehu king over Israel. God wanted Jehu to destroy Baal worship in Israel. Notice this passage that describes how God gave Elijah this assignment.
"So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' And he said, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.' Then the Lord said to him: 'Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place' " (1 Kings 19:13-16).
Now, here is the important part. Elijah did not anoint Jehu as king over Israel personally. In fact, this anointing did not even occur when Elijah was fulfilling his office. This same passage said that Elisha would be prophet in place of Elijah. Elisha would be given Elijah's office when Elijah was removed from the scene. This occurred before Jehu was anointed as prophet.
"And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, 'Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?' Elisha said, 'Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.' So he said, 'You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.' Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, 'My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!' So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces" (2 Kings 2:9-12).
Then, "Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?' And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over. Now when the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho saw him, they said, 'The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.' And they came to meet him, and bowed to the ground before him" (2 Kings 2:14-15).
Notice, "the sons of the prophets" are mentioned.
This event happened before Jehu was anointed king over Israel. Yet, God gave that job to Elijah. So how was Elijah to anoint Jehu king over Israel after he was taken away by a whirlwind and Elisha received his office?
The answer is, Elijah did not work alone, and those who worked with him continued his work after him. Elijah did anoint Jehu as king, but not directly. He did God's work, the work and assignments and tasks God has given him including the anointing of Jehu, through the work of others he supervised, and they continued that work after Elijah was gone.
This is the example God gives us in the life of Elijah that helps us understand the role of Mr. Armstrong. It makes sense to look at the lessons and examples God gives us about the first Elijah to best understand the role of the Elijah to come in our day.
Here is the account of how Elijah, through the work of those who followed him after he was gone, fulfilled God's commission of anointing Jehu king over Israel.
"And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, 'Get yourself ready, take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth Gilead. Now when you arrive at that place, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, and go in and make him rise up from among his associates, and take him to an inner room. Then take the flask of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, "Thus says the Lord: 'I have anointed you king over Israel.' " Then open the door and flee, and do not delay.' So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth Gilead. And when he arrived, there were the captains of the army sitting; and he said, 'I have a message for you, Commander.' Jehu said, 'For which one of us?' And he said, 'For you, Commander.' Then he arose and went into the house. And he poured the oil on his head, and said to him, 'Thus says the Lord God of Israel: "I have anointed you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel" ' " (2 Kings 9:1-6).
Notice that, though the anointing of Jehu as king was Elijah's job and commission he received from God in 1 Kings 19:16, it was a group effort. He didn't do it himself directly. It was carried out by those who followed him in his place after he was gone. Elisha continued in Elijah's office, and he gave the job to a young man, one of the sons of the prophets, to do the actual anointing. And God does not even give us the name of this young man. Yet, he did the actual anointing.
It was a team effort.
The "sons of the prophets" are mentioned in accounts regarding Elijah and Elisha. Some have said that there were one or more schools of the prophets at that time. These schools may have been established by Samuel, or by Elijah - the Bible does not say - but it is clear that Elijah and Elisha led the sons of the prophets and used them to do God's work, as needed. At least in the case of the anointing of Jehu, Elisha used one of the sons of the prophets to do it.
The work of Elijah was a team effort.
Not only that, it was a team effort that continued after Elijah was gone. It continued after him.
And it was the work of God, for though it was a son of the prophets who poured oil on Jehu's head, God said that it was He, God, who was anointing Jehu as king (2 Kings 9:6).
So, if you want to really understand Mr. Armstrong's role as the Elijah to come and restore all things, which is part of the work of God in our time, and if you want to understand how that work is to be done and whether or not it continues to the present time, look to the examples God gives us of how the first Elijah did the work God gave him. He didn't do it alone. And the work didn't stop after Elijah was gone. Elijah started it and put it into motion, but it continued after him. God uses these examples, I think, to teach us about Mr. Armstrong.
God anointed Jehu as king, as it says in 2 Kings 9:6. But God did it through human instruments. He gave the job to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:16. Elijah must have passed on the instructions and the job to Elisha to be done after Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind, for Elisha ordered it done in 2 Kings 9:1-3. Elisha delegated the job to an unnamed son of the prophets who did the actual pouring of oil on Jehu's head and passed on God's instructions to Jehu in 2 Kings 9:7-10.
In our time, God gave the job of restoring lost knowledge to Mr. Armstrong. He also gave him other related jobs, including feeding the flock, preaching the gospel to the world, and giving God's warning message to Israel. Mr. Armstrong did that work, and he built a team to help him. He established a college with three campuses. He raised up a Church of God fellowship with many congregations. He trained and ordained evangelists and pastors who wrote articles, went on baptizing tours, and pastored congregations.
The work Mr. Armstrong did, with the help of the colleges and men educated in those colleges and with the help of the whole Church and its members who supported him with tithes, offerings, prayers, and service, was like the work God gave the first Elijah. And as with the first Elijah, it was a team effort.
And Mr. Armstrong's work as the Elijah to come continues today. As the work of the first Elijah was continued by the team Elijah had worked with, so the work of Mr. Armstrong continues today by the Church of God, the team Mr. Armstrong built and worked with. We continue his work.
We continue his work of feeding the flock, do we not? We continue his work of preaching the gospel to the world, do we not? We continue his work of giving a warning message to Israel, do we not? Do we also continue his work of restoring lost knowledge?
Yes, we do.
Just as Elisha and the sons of the prophets continued the work of Elijah after Elijah was gone, it is the Church of God's job today to continue the work of Herbert W. Armstrong, all of it.
It is the job of the Church of God today to continue the job of Mr. Armstrong of restoring truth. Whether certain leaders of various fellowships in the scattered Church today accept new knowledge is a different matter. They are responsible to God. Mr. Armstrong started his work of restoration of knowledge while a lay member of the Church of God Seventh Day, and as part of that job he did research, discovered new truth, and offered that new knowledge to Church of God Seventh Day, but they never accepted it. But he was doing his job, nevertheless.
You cannot use as evidence that we are not to restore knowledge the fact that the scattered Church of God fellowships today do not accept new knowledge. That would be like saying, the ten commandments are not in force because no one obeys them.
You cannot say, Mr. Armstrong was not the Elijah to restore all things because the Church of God Seventh Day never accepted new restored knowledge. That was their choice, their wrong choice, and God rejected them from doing a powerful work of preaching the gospel and the Ezekiel warning because of it. But even before Mr. Armstrong started an independent work, which became the Worldwide Church of God, he was restoring knowledge for himself and his family and a few who would learn from him.
Mr. Armstrong practiced a way of life, and he taught that way of life to the Church of God by his writings, his speaking, and his example. That way of life includes believing the Bible more than Church of God tradition, learning new knowledge from the Bible and teaching it to the Church, and correcting errors when those errors are found, even errors made by Mr. Armstrong himself.
Has the Church of God corrected any of Mr. Armstrong's teachings? Have they changed anything? Yes. There is one mistake Mr. Armstrong made that he never corrected in his lifetime, but the whole Church of God has corrected it after his death. Even Mr. Sheldon Monson has corrected it or participated in correcting it.
I already mentioned it early in this post. Mr. Armstrong said we were to follow the next pastor general, who turned out to be Mr. Tkach, without qualification that he follow the Bible. No one I know of in the true Church of God follows that mistake. All have acknowledged that it would be error to follow the teachings of Mr. Tkach after Mr. Armstrong died. I am sure Mr. Monson would acknowledge that.
Mr. Armstrong raised up a Church of God fellowship and taught the Church of God the way of life Mr. Armstrong practiced. That way of life includes learning new things and correcting error. The Church of God should continue that way of life today - that is the example God teaches us in the Bible in the events concerning the first Elijah - a type of Mr. Armstrong. We are to continue the work of Mr. Armstrong as Elisha and the sons of the prophets continued the work of the first Elijah.
The work of Mr. Armstrong includes correcting error. Some of that work he completed while alive and some was not completed when he died. As a Church we are to do what Mr. Armstrong himself did not complete.
Mr. Armstrong made a mistake about Pentecost. He taught it was on a Monday. Later, he corrected his own error, and correctly taught it was on a Sunday. Correction of error is part of his work. Near the end of his life, he taught we should follow Mr. Tkach. He died before he could correct that error. But the Church of God, continuing in his work, corrected that error as he himself would have done if he were alive to do so. We corrected that error by leaving Mr. Tkach and establishing fellowships that could continue in the main body of doctrine Mr. Armstrong taught based on the truth of the Bible. We did not follow Mr. Tkach.
I am sure Mr. Monson, Mr. Weston, and most other Church of God leaders and ministers would agree that we were right not to follow Mr. Tkach.
I am not saying that there is a lot of error in Mr. Armstrong's doctrines that needs to be corrected. There is probably very little error, and if there is any error, it is probably minor. There may be additional new knowledge God wants to teach us, however.
The online HWA library that Church of God Assembly (COGA) plans to use for preaching the gospel is generally sound, and I think it can be a useful tool for preaching the gospel. It would certainly be a time saver until the time when COGA can build up its own inventory of literature, perhaps very slowly. When I learned of that plan, my reaction was, "why didn't I think of that?". I don't know if pieces of that literature can be printed, according to copyright law, but I am not an expert in copyright law. In any case, printing may not be necessary. So if this can be made to work, it is probably a good idea, at least for a while.
But the Church of God should not teach its members and ministers that no teaching of Mr. Armstrong should be changed, corrected, or added to. That is contrary to the whole way of life Mr. Armstrong practiced. It is contrary to the work the Church is to do in continuation of Mr. Armstrong's role of restoring lost knowledge. We need to read and study the Bible as we would want our readers and listeners to do when we preach the gospel to them - with an open mind willing to believe what God says more than church tradition and willing to learn new things that God wants to teach us.
How did Elijah do God's work? Did he do all the work God assigned to him personally? Or did he establish or work with an organization, a fellowship, a community that carried on his work after him?
The lesson God teaches us through the examples in the life of Elijah is that Mr. Armstrong's work continues today in the Church, including his work of restoring all things.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
In understanding Mr. Armstrong's probable role as the Elijah to come and restore all things, would it not make sense to examine the role of the first Elijah and how he did his work?
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Is There a Contradiction Between Learning New Knowledge and Recognizing Herbert W. Armstrong as the Elijah to Restore All Things?
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong could well be, and I think probably was, the Elijah to come to restore all things. Some people latch on to that "all things" to say that, since Mr. Armstrong restored all things, there is nothing left to restore, and doctrine should now be locked in place - no more changes, no more additions, no more discovery in the Bible of new knowledge we did not have before. The thinking seems to be, if we were to discover something new, new truth, new doctrinal knowledge from the Bible, and if we began to believe that new doctrinal knowledge and teach it and practice it and make it a part of the body of doctrinal knowledge of the Church of God, we would be restoring doctrinal knowledge that had been lost. But that would contradict the principle that Mr. Armstrong restored everything, because if some new knowledge was restored today, that would be something Mr. Armstrong did not personally restore, and that would contradict the principle that Mr. Armstrong restored all, things, not just some things and leaving other things to be restored in the future after he died.
I have to respect those who sincerely feel this way, assuming they are basing their beliefs on God's word concerning the Elijah to come and restore all things (Matthew 17:11, Mark 9:12).
But there is a flaw in this thinking, a mistake, and I want to point that out. I hope those who think that we cannot learn and accept new knowledge because that would contradict Mr. Armstrong's role of restoring ALL things will read this post and consider this issue with an open mind.
A person may say, "If I am wrong, tell me, I want to know." This is a commendable attitude, one we should all have, and is endorsed by God's word, which says, "Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning" (Proverbs 9:8-9).
If this thinking - that Mr. Armstrong's role as the Elijah to restore all things prevents learning new knowledge - were correct, it would be hard for me to reconcile it with the principle that we should practice what we preach, and since we teach the public to learn new things and believe the Bible more than their traditions, we have to do the same to successfully preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning. And we have to preach the message because the majority of Israel who needs a warning has not been reached with the message. So they need the warning, and we need to preach it. But to do this successfully, with God's blessing of an open door, we have to be willing to do what we ask others to do - to learn new knowledge from the Bible and believe what we learn and prove from the Bible more than our traditions. God hates a double standard (Deuteronomy 25:13-16, Exodus 12:49, Numbers 15:15-16, Matthew 23:2-4, Luke 11:46).
So is this a problem of reconciliation? God teaches that the Elijah to come, who I and many others expect was Mr. Armstrong, was to restore ALL things, yet to avoid hypocrisy in preaching the gospel we have to be willing to learn new knowledge from the Bible just as we ask the public to do. But if we learn something new, that would be something Mr. Armstrong did not restore. So apparently, that would contradict Mr. Armstrong's Elijah role, which we believe based on scripture (Matthew 17:11).
How can we be willing to do what we ask the public to do, learn new knowledge, if we expect that there is nothing new to learn - that Mr. Armstrong restored it all?
There is an answer in the Bible.
The Bible teaches that when someone does something through the work of someone else, that action is attributed to the first person who started it, supervised it, or had authority over it.
I have posted about this before, but many current readers of my blog may not have seen my old posts.
The world knows this too. One may say that Henry Ford is the maker of Ford cars. Yet he did not directly make the cars, but he did it through the workmen who worked in his factories. They made the cars, but their work is attributed to the man, Henry Ford, who employed them and caused them to do the work of making cars, and that work continues today. Mr. Armstrong, some of you will remember, used that example. Another example: a historian of World War II may say that Adolf Hitler defeated France in 1940. Yet is was the German army, officers, and soldiers that did the actual fighting and conquering of France - yet that action can be attributed to Hitler because he set it in motion.
God the Father created all things, but through the Word who became Jesus Christ. Christ did the work of creating, but under the authority and supervision of God the Father (John 1:1-3, Ephesians 3:8-9, Colossians 1:15-16, Hebrews 1:1-2).
Look at Mr. Armstrong himself and the work God did through him. He restored truth, yes. But he had human helpers. The whole membership and ministry backed him up. Many articles that taught and expounded on truths that Mr. Armstrong restored were written by other men under Mr. Armstrong's supervision. This truth was given to the public through the tithes and prayers of the membership. It was taught in local congregations by ministers. And there were no doubt times when Mr. Armstrong wanted and asked for feedback and scriptural research from some of his top men before he fully accepted a new idea he had.
He even allowed himself to be corrected, as with Pentecost being on a Monday or Sunday, by men under him.
The whole Elijah work was a group effort. Yet, we attribute the restoring of doctrine to Mr. Armstrong personally because he caused it to happen. He had authority over it. He started it. He set the example. He caused it to happen, though it was Christ working in him, as he often said.
A very clear proof of this principle is in the Bible. "Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples)" (John 4:1-2). Notice, the disciples did the actual baptizing. But their action is attributed to Christ who authorized, supervised, and caused them to do it. The practice of baptism continues today.
Mr. Armstrong established the principle by his teaching and example of believing the Bible more than tradition and being willing to learn new knowledge from the Bible. We should continue living by that principle, as Mr. Armstrong taught us, and if we discover and restore doctrine, that restoration can be attributed to Mr. Armstrong as the Elijah to restore all things because he started the process - he taught it to us by word and example - and we continue in the work he started.
If we restore anything, based on the example and teaching of Mr. Armstrong of believing the Bible, then it is Mr. Armstrong who restored it because he started the process, he taught it to us, and we continue in that same work. Anything we restore is something Mr. Armstrong restored, because he caused us to do it, by his teaching and example. We merely continue in his work.
The clearest example of this sort of thing is, coincidently (?), from the life of Elijah himself.
God gave Elijah a job. "Then the Lord said to him: 'Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place' " (1 Kings 19:15-16).
So Elijah was to anoint three people for jobs they were to do or offices they were to hold: Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha.
Did Elijah personally anoint these three men before he was taken away? No. The only one he personally appointed to an office and job was Elisha (1 Kings 19:19). After Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:1-14), Elisha, not Elijah, met with Hazael and told him he would be king over Syria. Although it is not mentioned he anointed him, he apparently did, according to God's instructions to Elijah - Hazael did not seem to know before this that he would become king.
But the account of how Jehu was anointed is crystal clear - it was not done by Elijah. It was done by Elisha, under Elisha's authority, and not even directly by him - it was done by an unnamed individual acting under Elisha's instruction, and Elisha probably got the general instruction from Elijah. "And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, 'Get yourself ready, take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth Gilead. Now when you arrive at that place, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, and go in and make him rise up from among his associates, and take him to an inner room. Then take the flask of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, "Thus says the Lord: 'I have anointed you king over Israel.' " Then open the door and flee, and do not delay' " (2 Kings 9:1).
Notice that God says that it was He who was anointing Jehu king of Israel. God anointed him. But God did it through Elijah by giving Elijah instructions to do so back in 1 Kings 19:15-16. Elijah must have passed it to Elisha, who ordered a servant to do that actual anointing. In other words, the work God gave Elijah in 1 Kings 19:15-16 continued after Elijah was gone. Yet, it was the work of Elijah which God gave him. The work was attributed to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:15-16 even though was not done by Elijah directly - it was done by those who followed Elijah.
Likewise, any new knowledge we discover and teach from the Bible, anything we restore that Mr. Armstrong did not personally and directly restore, is attributed to Mr. Armstrong as the Elijah to restore all things, because Mr. Armstrong started the work of restoration of truth and taught it to the Church of God, and by so doing caused it to happen, even if we are the ones who do it by continuing that work Mr. Armstrong started.
This is a way to reconcile these three things: we are to preach the gospel, we must practice what we tell others to do, and Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah to restore all things.
If you know of another way to reconcile these things, I would like to hear it. If I am wrong, tell me and show me from the Bible, from Church history, and from sound logic. Comments are open.
There is no contradiction between the policy of believing the Bible more than the Church while being willing to learn new knowledge from the Bible, and the recognition of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong as the Elijah to come and restore all things. They fit together when you realize that the work of restoration of doctrine that Mr. Armstrong started should continue today by those who have been trained by his teaching and example. In effect, Mr. Armstrong, by starting the process as Christ led him, continues the work of restoration through us today. In that sense, Mr. Armstrong not only has restored doctrine, but continues to do so now.
The teaching, example, and work of a man of God can continue after his death, according to the Bible. "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks" (Hebrews 11:4). Notice, God says that Able still speaks to us today, though he is dead. Likewise, the work of Mr. Armstrong of restoring truth as the Elijah to come continues today, though he is dead.
A minister might say, no major new knowledge has been restored to the Church since Mr. Armstrong died.
If you look at the Church as a whole, that may be right, but only because the Church of God has not been willing to accept new knowledge. But that does not mean that some individuals have not learned new knowledge that the Church as a whole has not yet accepted.
You could ask the question, what new knowledge did Mr. Armstrong restore to the Church of God Seventh Day that he originally attended with? The answer is, none. Mr. Armstrong restored nothing to that fellowship. Why? Mr. Armstrong did learn new knowledge that had been lost. Truths were restored to Mr. Armstrong personally, which he accepted. He tried to teach those truths to the Church of God Seventh Day, but they would not accept them.
Likewise, God may restore and teach, through the Bible, more knowledge that Mr. Armstrong did not have to certain individuals, and those individuals may try to give these things to the leadership of various Churches of God, but because of prejudice against new knowledge and fear of offending the majority of members who are against anything new, they reject any new knowledge offered to them by those individuals, who, like Mr. Armstrong, have discovered new knowledge in the Bible.
It is a little unfair, I think, for a minister or COG leader to back up his teaching that we should not learn new things by saying that no new truth has been revealed to the Church since Mr. Armstrong when it is the very bias of that minister and others like him against new knowledge that prevents the Church from accepting new knowledge.
God can restore new knowledge to any man or woman willing to believe God and learn new knowledge. But God cannot use that man or woman to then pass on and restore that new knowledge to a fellowship that is not willing to accept it, just as Mr. Armstrong was not able to restore new truth to the Church of God Seventh Day which was not willing to accept it.
But eventually, God used Mr. Armstrong to raise up a new fellowship that was willing to accept the new truth that Mr. Armstrong was teaching.
A similar thing can happen today.
Since the death of Mr. Armstrong, the Churches of God and all the ministry and membership are being tested in a special way. We are being tested on our willingness to practice the way of life Mr. Armstrong practiced and to practice the way of life God taught us through the teaching and example of Mr. Armstrong. And that way of life includes willingness to believe God more than Church of God tradition and willingness to learn new things from God.
We are all being examined by God right now.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
One of the things we ask the public to do when we preach the gospel is to be willing to learn new things, to leave their comfort zone, to learn new things from the Bible they never knew before.
This was one thing Church of God Seventh Day was not willing to do, but Mr. Armstrong was always willing to do. That is one reason, maybe the main reason, why God could not use Church of God Seventh Day to do a great work, but instead used Mr. Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong taught his listeners and readers new knowledge, and he himself was always willing to learn new knowledge from the Bible. He practiced what he preached.
Today, too much of the Church of God ministry and leadership is unwilling to learn new knowledge. They just want to stick with what they have, and they rebuke or scorn those lay members who send in suggestions or study papers for changes in doctrine.
One man said something like this: let's not speculate but let us stick to what we know and have proved. In other words, we are not interested in learning new things.
As long as that man has that attitude, I cannot see how God will bless him and his group with an open door for preaching the gospel. When we preach the gospel, we are asking the public to learn new things. If we are not willing to learn new things, we are not practicing what we preach. How can God bless that? I don't think that man will ever be successful in preaching the gospel, unless he repents. And as long as he is against new knowledge, he has no right to claim the title Philadelphian for himself or the group he leads.
Look at the history of the Church since Mr. Armstrong was converted. Philadelphians learn new things from God's word. Mr. Armstrong was that way, and his listeners and readers who helped build the Church of God were that way.
But not now.
No wonder the Church of God today has not been able to reach millions as Mr. Armstrong did. We don't practice what we preach.
Does the Bible teach members to "correct" the Church of God?
In the right way, yes.
Not by spreading doctrinal ideas among the members contrary to the teaching of the leadership and ministry. Not by contradicting the ministry with other members. That causes division.
But the Bible does teach the principle of correcting others, and that can include correcting the Church. What is the proper way for a lay member to correct a doctrinal error in the Church?
By respectfully suggesting the change to the leadership. Then, the leadership can evaluate it and make the change or not. And if he is not honest with the Bible, God will hold him responsible. The member has done his part.
This is what happened with Mr. Armstrong and the Church of God Seventh Day leadership. Mr. Armstrong suggested changes that that group was not willing to make. God held that group responsible and rejected them from doing a great work, and God chose Mr. Armstrong to do that work instead. And Mr. Armstrong was only a lay member, not an apostle, when he first suggested changes.
Consider these Bible passages:
"Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20).
"And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:39-40).
"Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter" (Proverbs 24:11).
"When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand (Ezekiel 3:18).
"Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning" (Proverbs 9:8-9).
There is nothing in these passages that restricts their application from correction to the leadership of a group from a lay member.
Correcting the Church by contradicting the ministry with the membership is not the way to correct the Church. But making respectful suggestions for change to the leadership is the right way.
But in some or most organizations, that is not wise, because the leadership will interpret your attempt to help as rebellion. In that case, it is better not to correct, for, as I quoted above, a wise man will love you, but the wicked will hate you for it.
Some have said, correction always comes from the top down. But the Bible doesn't teach that. Like saying, God only works through one man at a time, it is a myth in the Church of God. Correction, if respectful and given in private, can come from the bottom up. Read about Naaman in 2 Kings 5:11-14. His servants corrected him, in love, and God honored that correction with a miracle. God also included the account to show us that correction can come from the bottom up.
Correction came from the bottom up with Mr. Armstrong and his wife Loma in regards to the Sabbath. She was under his authority, but God used her to teach Mr. Armstrong about the Sabbath.
To be Philadelphian and have an open door for preaching the gospel, we have to practice what we preach. We teach the public to be willing to learn new things from the Bible, and we must always be willing to do the same. If we shut our minds to new knowledge, we may be disqualifying ourselves from having the open door promised to Philadelphians.
To have an open door, a WIDE open door, that will enable us to reach 500 million people with a message of repentance, we have to practice what we preach. We have to strive as hard as we can to overcome sin. We have to believe the Bible more than our Church of God leaders. And we have to be willing to learn new knowledge from the Bible.
God commands us to grow in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18).
If we do these things, I believe God will bless us. If none of us do these things, I do not believe God will bless us, and the work will not get done.
God holds us responsible for warning the world. Blood guilt is on us if we fail (Ezekiel 3:17-21). But to succeed we have to practice what we preach. So unless we do these things, we will fail to get the message out, blood guilt will be on us, and God will count us as murderers.
Could anything be more serious?