Whereas the Worldwide Church of God was physically rich, arenít we in danger of feeling spiritually rich and self-complacent (Amos 6:1)? Ancient Israel had Godís holy days; didnít eat pork, etc. But it didnít keep them from going into captivity (Amos 5:21). It wasnít enough!
When Herbert W. Armstrong died, Dr. Herman Hoeh declared that the seventh candlestick had been lit. That means Laodicea officially began immediately.
Nearly four years later, Malachiís Message to Godís Church Today began to sound the alarm: something wasnít kosher in the Church of God! It exposed a corrupt ministry intent on destroying the foundational doctrines of the Worldwide Church of God, and urged the brethren to hang on for dear life to what God had given us through His end-time Elijah. We were encouraged to get a grip, while others were losing it (Revelation 3:11).
Those who were of God heard what the Spirit said to the Churches through Malachiís Message. Those who werenít of God quickly lost it (Godís truth) and slipped further and further into darkness. That darkness was disguised as a "new light of understanding" (2 Corinthians 11:14). The true members of the Church of God responded to His call and came out of that decadent organization. Those who remained behind became the SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN.
They were no longer Godís Church! You canít reject Godís truth for demonic doctrines without becoming a part of "Mystery Babylon" (1 Corinthians 10:21; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). All this has been quite revealing (I Corinthians 11:19).
Knowing the Truth
God knows the end from the beginning (Acts 15:18). He prophesied a great falling away that would leave few standing. The BIG ONE has hit and shaken the Church of God to its core! But isnít it possible to know the truth without knowing the Truth (2 Timothy 3:7).
Godís calling us to a deeper love and conversion (I John 3:18). Isnít Godís truth a means to an end? Didnít Herbert W. Armstrong fear some just "DONíT GET IT?Ē That too many were only converted to our doctrines? The doctrines are meant to help bring us closer to God by having a better understanding of His Will, but only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will save us! We need Christís teachings, but we need God the Father and Jesus Christ even more! Only they can establish us and secure our salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17). You can have all the understanding in the world and still fall short (I Corinthians 13:2).
Remember Solomon? Just because you know Godís truth, doesnít mean you know Him! (Job 42:5; I John 2:4) Youíre not going to be judged by how much you know, but by HOW MUCH YOU GROW! By how much you apply what you know, becoming more Christ-like, more Godly, more representative of the Kingdom of God, here and now (James 1:22; John 13:35). A system canít save you and ritual is no substitute for a relationship! (2 Timothy 3:5).
Malachiís Message Still Applies!
Whereas the Worldwide Church of God was physically rich, arenít we in danger of feeling spiritually rich and self-complacent (Amos 6:1)? Ancient Israel had Godís holy days; didnít eat pork, etc. But it didnít keep them from going into captivity! (Amos 5:21). It wasnít enough! Worldwide doesnít feel sufficient, they feel so impoverished they go to Babylon for help! Weíre the ones who feel safe and secure! Who said we can let our guard down? Weíre commanded to REMAIN ON HIGH ALERT until Christ comes! (Luke 21:34) Yet some are failing to continue to apply Malachiís Message (Romans 2:17-21). Godís refining process isnít over! (Daniel 12:10; Isaiah 48:10).
Letís see to it that Philadelphia Church of God (Judah) doesnít go the way of the Worldwide Church of God (Israel)! These biblical principles still apply: donít put undue trust in men; work out your own salvation, itís not a group affair; beware the scholarly approach that demands you rely on men - not Godís Spirit or personal Bible study. And God help us to look past Petra (though itís important), to focus on His Kingdom (Luke 21:36; Isaiah 33:17). To survive the Holocaust is one thing, to enter the Kingdom of God is everything! (2 Peter 1:10-11).
Beware of Emperor Worship!
Whatís the greatest false doctrine to come out of Babylon? The nefarious idea of a DIVINE EMPEROR! Nimrod had put himself in Godís place! He had people depending on him for all their answers and protection. Today, we have such MEN "playing God" in the Church! (Nahum 1:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:3). Thereís nothing new under the sun. Unlike Moses, who wished that all Godís people were prophets (Numbers 11:29), Nimrod felt threatened by any "competition." He dealt cruelly, in a jealous rage, with those who opposed his haughty position. God used Shem to put him back in his place! Leaders are ordained of God; they do have a definite place, but itís NOT in the Holy of Holies (II Chronicles 26:18)! Theyíre intruding in Godís business, and trespassing on His sacred ground, when they get out of line and overstep their bounds (Zephaniah1:9; Exodus 19:12; Colossians 2:18). Away with emperor worship! Itís soon to sweep Europe, but we donít need it in the Church of God. Not if we want to remain the Church of God!
Didnít Gerald Flurry warn that we were slipping into a Laodicean attitude when he had his unfortunate incident with alcohol? Didnít he say, after prayerfully wracking his brains to understand why God had allowed that to happen, that we have to be careful not to get proud due to our abundance of revelation (2 Corinthians 12:6-7)? Have we learned that lesson? Has he? With his preoccupation with all his religious titles and self-promotion, we really have to wonder and be most concerned!
Holy, righteous CHARACTER is more important to God than all the revelation in the world! We definitely need the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but God says we should want the FRUITS of his Holy Spirit even more! GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT! (1 Corinthians 14:1) Iím convinced Godís about to empower His people like never before, but wants us to be spiritually ready (having learned from the Corinthiansí mistakes), and our ministers mature enough not to get in the way! (Joel 2:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
As far as revelations go, God can inspire unconverted men like Caiphas and speak through donkeys! All truth is from and belongs to God, so why should some become puffed up with pride that they're something special rather than just an instrument serving God's purpose? And why get bloated with self-importance when God can quickly pop that balloon? (I Corinthians 4:6-7).
Warnings from History
If what happened in the Church during the 70ís was a warning of what could happen in the 80ís what about the 90ís? Having survived our Worldwide ordeal, are we now home safe (Jude 5)? Let us pray and examine ourselves this new century: Do we love God or fear men (Acts 5:29)?
God has an ordained government for His Church, but it can gradually fall to Satan - made over in some manís image - if we blindly follow it and forget that itís also a means to an end, and not and end in itself! Isnít that how the Church of God got off track? The Mother spoon fed the brain-dead! We need the Father! When Church government stops directing us to God and substitutes doctrines or a personality cult instead (III John 9), and refuses correction, Godís glory has left such a bankrupt administration! Will God destroy the very government Heís installed because weíve failed to use it properly? Some are actually worshipping the government rather than the Governor!
Didnít God level His Temple, stop the sacrifices, and disband the priesthood? Didnít he empty the House of Israel and scatter Judah? Wasnít Jerusalem-headquarters forcibly shut down? Even Hezekiah had to destroy the brass serpent God told Moses to make, because they had perverted its purpose (2 Kings 18:4).
Too often, that which God had intended to become a blessing, became a curse! Such historical warnings donít curry favor with "the top brass, " but itís evident God would rather work through a very faithful few than let many misrepresent Him! (Jeremiah 26:18; Ezekiel 5:3-4).
What have we learned from our WCG experience? Havenít some since scrambled for positions of power, while others claim weíre all equal? (Numbers 16:3; 1 Timothy 1:7; James 3:1) God isnít an anarchist, and neither should we be. We mustnít throw out the baby with the bathwater, just because of abuses of power! Proper leadership encourages us to "be all we can be," within Godís law; it encourages us to think and become like our leaders, and able to teach what weíve been taughtóafter all weíre PRIEST-KINGS IN TRAINING. (Matthew 10:25; Hebrews 5:12; 2 Timothy 2:2, 15).
The proper use of Godís government never plays politics or acts jealous, but truly has everyones' best interests at heart. (I Cor. 14:26) Weíre all members of Godís Royal Family, therefore we ought to respect each othersí part in Godís plan and place in Godís Church. (I Corinthians 12:18).
I truly believe in GOVERNMENT FROM THE TOP DOWN ó- and it starts with GOD THE FATHER! Thatís why we must always OBEY GOD, even if it means we must disobey men. Wasnít it ministers who told you to throw Malachiís Message away? Wasnít it Church leaders who threw out the faithful? Didnít we just take their word for it, rather than check out what GOD had to say? Donít be fooled again! Do you now CONSULT CHRIST, or are you still playing "follow the leader"? Which is truly learning how to follow Godís government? Have you finally learned this lesson? Or did you ask your minister for permission to read Beyond Babylon? Worldwide all over again? Not if you continue to read and apply Malachiís Message to yourself. Thatís the only way to prevent a "repeat performance". Hopefully, once was enough.
David Ben-Ariel was a Christian-Zionist writer and author of Beyond Babylon: Europe's Rise and Fall, With a focus on the Middle East and Jerusalem, his analytical articles helped others improve their understanding of that troubled region.
David passed on in March of 2011. R.I.P. His articles will remain as testimony to his life.