Saturday, July 24, 2021

Only Those Who Will Believe God More than Man Will Have the Philadelphian Open Door

I recently heard an inspiring sermon on the Internet from a Church of God minister, and I want to share my reactions with my readers in the spirit of "iron sharpens iron".  Some COG members, in different groups and scattered and some at home, may struggle from time to time with questions and issues of, "Who should I support?", and, "Where should I attend?".  When COG members communicate with each other about common problems, we can sometimes help each other with ideas, ideas we can check independently with God's word.  So here I will offer my ideas and thoughts.  You can check what I say in your own Bible studies.  I have also given a number of posts in my blog over the past year on the things I will speak about, and I go into more detail in those posts.

The sermon was about trusting God.  It was given by the leading pastor of a small group that has existed for a short time compared with other Church of God groups.

This pastor is energetic, courageous, bold, hard-working, and intelligent, and he seems to be zealous for God's law and exercising faith in God's protection and blessings.  He is a very inspiring and charismatic speaker.  I enjoyed the sermon, and felt inspired by it.  No doubt many members of this group, and those from other groups or scattered members who stay at home, were inspired by this sermon, or will be if they hear it in the future.

He and the members of his small group seem to have strong faith in God's protection.

And it seems that God has blessed this man and this small group in a way He has not blessed many other Church of God fellowships.  Based on fruits, it seems that God is rewarding their faith and trust in Him.

God may be using this man and the small Church of God fellowship he pastors to teach the whole Church of God - all COG fellowships and scattered members who stay at home - a lesson about faith and trust in God.  God responds to and rewards faith and trust in Him.  He blesses those who are zealous to do His will, who keep His commandments, and who trust Him for their protection.

We can all learn a lesson in that.

And it may be that this is part of why Christ raised up this group, or allowed it to start and prosper.  Christ may be using this group and its pastor to teach lessons to the whole Church of God - all the scattered members and fellowships - about the importance of trusting God in trials and being zealous to do His will.

And for that reason I have considered supporting this group and recommending them to others.  But I can't.

There is a problem.  That problem has not gone away.  Regular readers of this blog probably know where I am going with this.

They are not preaching the gospel to the world or the Ezekiel warning to Israel, which God commands and is God's will.  They are not getting a warning message out to the public, which the people need.  Our nations need that warning, even if they do not heed it, so that when the punishment comes upon them, they will know that God was fair to give them a warning first, and seeing God's fairness and righteousness, to be able to trust God and repent and be teachable, those who survive, in the millennium.  But if they don't hear a warning before they were punished, they will tend to blame God and say, "No one warned me - if God had warned me before He punished me, I would have heeded the warning and repented",  It will be harder for them to trust God enough to repent and be converted.  Some may lose their eternal lives because of this, if they can't see that God was fair to them.

And God is fair to warn.  The Bible shows this.  From the warning to Cain in Genesis to the warning at the end of the book of Revelation, GOD WARNS.  Do a Bible study on this some time.  You may end up reading the whole Bible.

But this small group and its leader - who gave such an inspiring sermon on the blessings of trusting God and having courage to obey Him - has not begun to warn our nations in God's name.  The warning is God's message to the nations, not our message.  We are the delivery service God has commissioned to deliver His warning message.  We have received the message from God's hand, put it in our pocket. and sat on it without delivering it, many of us.  That does not honor God and magnify His name.

Many members of this group have come out of one or more groups that are getting the warning message and the true gospel out to the nations.  By departing from those groups and forming a group that does not preach the gospel and the warning to the public, they have hurt and diminished the work of God.

But maybe this group is getting ready to start a work, a powerful work that God will empower and bless, to preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning about the tribulation to come to Israel.  Maybe God will reward this group and its leader for their zeal and trust in Him by giving them the open door for preaching the gospel promised to Philadelphia, and maybe God will empower them and lead them to go through that open door with great power and awesome results!

Not likely.


This leader and group have, in works, denied the way of life Mr. Armstrong practiced that enabled God to give Mr. Armstrong an open door for the gospel and the warning message.

In past posts I have expounded on this at length, and I encourage you to read those posts in this blog.

But if you have questions about this, read Mr. Armstrong's autobiography, and ask, why did God give him and his early supporters an open door for preaching the true gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the public?

Mr. Armstrong did not start the Church of God.  He learned from and began to attend with the Church of God Seventh Day.

But God did not start a Philadelphia work with Church of God Seventh Day.  He started it with Mr. Armstrong and the group he led, first called the "Radio Church of God" and later renamed "Worldwide Church of God".  And God didn't start the Philadelphia era until Mr. Armstrong began to separate from Church of God Seventh Day.


There was an important difference between Church of God Seventh Day and Mr. Armstrong.  They did not practice the same way of life exactly.  That difference qualified Mr. Armstrong for the open door and helped make him a Philadelphian.  That same difference disqualified Church of God Seventh Day from being used by God to preach a powerful message to the public.

That difference was simple.  Mr. Armstrong was willing to believe God more than man.

He was willing to believe and follow what God says in the Bible more than he believed and followed any man, more than any minister or Church of God leader, more than any church organization, and more than any tradition.  He was willing to change his traditions to follow God's word wherever it led him, even if it meant overturning previous Church of God teachings and traditions, and even if it meant adding new knowledge to what the Church of God already had.  

He was also willing to correct his own errors when God corrected Him through the Bible.

He was willing to change.

And that is a vital difference.  Church of God Seventh Day was not willing to correct its errors, not willing to change its traditions, and not willing to learn new knowledge.  In short, they were not willing to change.

And like Church of God Seventh Day, like the Catholic Church, like the Protestant churches, the small group and its leader I mentioned who gave such an inspiring sermon on trusting God are not willing to change. They will not let the Bible correct them in doctrine.  They will not learn new things from the Bible.  Instead, they are committed, at least the leader, to sticking with the teachings of Mr. Armstrong.  Mr. Armstrong was willing to correct his own errors and learn new things from God, but it seems this leader is not.  He will not correct Mr. Armstrong's errors and he will not correct his own, as I understand him from what he has publicly said.  He seems not willing, so far, to learn anything new that Mr. Armstrong did not teach.

In this, he is showing more faith in Mr. Armstrong and his teachings than he shows towards God and His word, the Bible.  And this means he is making an idol out of Mr. Armstrong.  Why an idol?  Because faith must always be towards God, not man.  To have faith in a man, any man, is to give that man the faith that should belong only to God.  Faith is a form of worship.  To have faith in a man is to make an idol of that man.

That is not the way of life Mr. Armstrong practiced.

How ironic!  In publicly committing himself to believe everything Mr. Armstrong taught he is denying the way of life Mr. Armstrong practiced.  In words he shows love to Mr. Armstrong, but in works he denies him.  Sound familiar?  Many in the world do the same thing with Christ.  They show praise towards Christ with their mouths but in works they deny Him.  They will not live the way of life Christ practiced as an example.

Why was it important to God that the Philadelphia work be led by one (Mr. Armstrong) who was willing to believe the Bible more than man and was willing to be corrected by the Bible and learn new things from the Bible?

Because to preach to the public, we must ask them to do exactly the same thing.  Whoever has an open door for preaching the gospel must ask the public to learn new things, to change their beliefs and traditions, and to believe the Bible more than any church or man or tradition.  And whoever does that kind of preaching had better practice what they preach.  

When you read Mr. Armstrong's autobiography, look how many times God tested people on this.  Loma Armstrong was tested.  Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was tested.  Church of God Seventh Day was tested.  A Sunday keeper who had the gift of healing, who taught Mr. Armstrong about healing, was tested.  Radio listeners who heard Mr. Armstrong say, don't believe me, believe God, believe your Bible, were tested.  And we are tested today.

Will God give the pastor of the small group I mentioned, who gave such an inspiring sermon on trusting God, an open door for preaching the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the public?

So far, God has not.  And as long as that man is publicly committed to believing Mr. Armstrong's writings and not being willing to believe the Bible first and correct Mr. Armstrong's mistakes or learn new knowledge from the Bible that Mr. Armstrong did not have, I don't think God will give that man an open door for the gospel.

Could I be mistaken in this?

I hope I am.  I don't see how.  But I hope I am wrong.  I hope Christ gives that man an open door and he does a powerful work of preaching the gospel.  If that happens, I won't easily understand it, but I will be glad for the sake of the gospel.

No one has emailed me or entered comments to show me where I am wrong in this.  So if I am wrong, I don't know it.  I don't think I am wrong.

Any Church of God leader or group that wants the open door promised to Philadelphia should be willing to learn new knowledge from the Bible and believe the Bible first over any Church of God teachings or traditions, and not try to "hold fast" to Mr. Armstrong's teachings, contrary to the way of life Mr. Armstrong himself practiced.  

If we ask the public to be willing to learn new things, we must also be willing to learn new things.  If we won't, I don't think God will give the open door to hypocrites.

Getting back to the speaker and group I mentioned at the beginning.

I don't see that willingness to practice the way of life Mr. Armstrong practiced in that pastor or his followers and supporters.

And yet, he seems to have zeal for trusting God for protection, and God seems to have blessed him for that zeal.  He gave a powerful sermon that we can learn from.

That man, and his group, may be useful in other ways for God's purposes.  He has lessons he can teach the Church of God.

I am not against him.

But his group does not seem to be a home for Philadelphians.  And I do not encourage Philadelphians in a group that has an open door for preaching the gospel, and is going through that door, to shift their support to a group that does not have an open door for the gospel and is not likely to have it in the future, unless they repent of making an idol of Mr. Armstrong and his teachings.

Look at the messages to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.  Christ teaches us to read all the messages and examine ourselves in the light of those messages.  Even though we are in the Laodicean era, any message can apply to any individual among us.  And Philadelphians are not the only church that receives only praise.

Look at the message to Smyrna.  "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death' " (Revelation 2:8-11).

Smyrna is not Philadelphia.  They are not promised an open door for the gospel.  Yet, Christ has no criticism or them, but rather says they are rich, implying they are spiritually rich (since they are physically poor).  He praises them and encourages them to continue.

I am not saying that any group today is Smyrna.  But I bring this out to show you do not have to be Philadelphian to be spiritually rich.  The promise of the open door is not for everyone.  God can give one leader or one group a job and a different leader and a different group a different job.

What if God, in His wisdom, has raised up this leader and group, not for preaching the gospel, but to teach the lessons of zeal for God and trust in God in times of trial?  And what if God has given a different job, the job of going through an open door for preaching the gospel, to a different leader and group where most of the Philadelphians already are?

There is great value in being a Philadelphian.  A Philadelphian loves God and wants to magnify His name and reputation.  He is intensely zealous for getting the message out that will show all creation for all eternity God's righteousness and fairness to warn before punishing.  He also loves his neighbors as himself and is very concerned that they get a warning while there is time for them to repent and escape God's punishment.  And like Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Armstrong's early supporters who heard him on the radio, a Philadelphian is willing to believe God more than any man or church or tradition and is willing to learn new things from God's word, just as he asks the public to do.

Though the group and their pastor who gave such an inspiring sermon I described in the beginning may do good works in many ways, they will not be, in my opinion, a suitable home for Philadelphians who have an open door for the gospel.

But if this man and his group are not Philadelphian, and if God is not with this man, why is God blessing him?

There is a myth in the Church of God, and that myth says that God only works through one man at a time.  But the Bible does not teach that.

God worked through many prophets at the same time.  He worked through Ezekiel and Jeremiah at about the same time.  He worked through Nathan and David at the same time.  He worked through several prophets in the time of Ezra.  He worked through Peter and Paul at the same time.

God can work through one leader in our time to preach the gospel and one or more other leaders to serve other groups, or even the whole Church of God, in other ways.

God can teach the whole Church of God lessons about trust and zeal through this man while preaching the gospel through a different man and group.  God can also use this man to serve the needs of those who are not Philadelphian but are in some other spiritual condition.  God loves them too.

Will God condemn a man for making an idol of Mr. Armstrong?

None of us is perfect, and we all have faults to strive against.  Look at the example of Gideon.  After God used him in a powerful way, he became a ruler in Israel and made an idol and it became a snare to him.  Yet, he is mentioned in the faith chapter in Hebrews, and it is therefore likely God forgave him.

In Mr. Armstrong's autobiography, there was a Sunday keeper, apparently unconverted, who had the gift of healing.  He prayed for people to be healed, and God answered his prayers.  God did not reject him just because he did not keep the Sabbath.  And God used him to teach Mr. Armstrong about healing.  But when God's time came, God tested this man by having Mr. Armstrong show him the truth about the Sabbath from the Bible.  He rejected the Bible, stayed with his tradition, and failed the test.  Then, God rejected him and no longer answered his prayers for healing.  He lost the gift.  But before this, for for a time, God was patient with his faults, answered his prayers, and used him in a powerful way to teach Mr. Armstrong.

I hope the speaker I mentioned in the beginning and his group enjoy success in whatever role God assigns to them.  But unless that man repents of not being willing to learn new things from the Bible and not being willing to correct any mistakes of Mr. Armstrong, I do not think God will give him a wide-open door for preaching the gospel.  So far, God hasn't.

If you have zeal for the gospel message and Ezekiel warning, and if you are willing to learn new things from the Bible and to believe the Bible more than your group leader or Mr. Armstrong or any Church of God tradition, and if you want to be counted by God as a Philadelphian and have the promised open door, I urge you to support a group that already has that open door, and don't move to a group that does not have the open door and disqualifies itself from having that open door.

There may be several groups that have an open door for the gospel, and for some the door is open wider than for others.  I have said this before and I still say it - in my opinion, despite not being perfect, the fellowship that is right now doing the best job of going through an open door for preaching the gospel is Living Church of God.