How do you know you have God’s truth? How do you know you are in God’s true Church? Is there only one true Church? Would God choose one group, led by one man, under the leadership of Jesus Christ, to do one Work? Is this even a question to really concern ourselves with? Our eternal lives depend on us getting the right answers to these questions!
People are skeptical, suspicious, even hostile, when it comes to God’s truth and His Church. This human reasoning is very dangerous and it has deceived many of God’s own people—it could even deceive you! Skeptics say we are vain, arrogant, self-righteous and egotistical. Are we? We had better not be!
You Must Be Humble
The first step in proving we have God’s truth and are in God’s one true Church, doing God’s only Work on this Earth, is to be humble! Remember, we are not self-righteous just because we are right. Self-righteousness is a dangerous sin we must guard against. We must all realize that we are human beings who make mistakes and are even prone to make mistakes.
My grandfather said on several occasions, “I’m just less than nothing; but the good part about it is—I know it.” This is the very first thing we must admit and recognize. This is where God starts us off. The rest of the world, and even many of God’s own people, refuse to admit that they could be wrong! They hang on to or blindly accept false doctrines, lies, deceits, pagan holidays and many wrong traditions without any biblical proof, and then refuse to admit there is any chance their church is in error.
This is one reason why we do have God’s truth in the midst of a very deceived world. God warns us to “[p]rove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). This indicates that most people do not. This is why the whole world has easily been deceived by Satan (Revelation 12:9). This includes “religious” leaders and their churches. Most of these leaders are so intellectually vain they will not humble themselves to believe simple, basic words of God, such as, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Recognizing the fact that we are so human, so fallible and so easily deceived is the first step in not being deceived. A humble mind is required to find and live God’s truth!
Believe God and Take Action
Once humility is established, the second step is accepting God’s truth and acting on it! We have all probably asked these questions: Am I going to take action concerning the truth about the Sabbath day, the holy days, tithing, etc.? What about the truth concerning Malachi’s Message? It also requires action!
Remember, just because you are humble does not mean you are blown around by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). In fact, it means just the opposite. A humble person will continually be proving all things, because a humble person takes action when God says to. We must ask ourselves, “Am I willing to confess error—to admit I am wrong—when proved—and reject it? Am I willing to accept truth new to me—when proved—even though unpopular—even though it cuts me off from my family, friends, associates or club members—even though everything in my selfish and vain nature rebels against it? Am I willing to act on it—obey the truth—no matter what the cost?” (Good News, January 1985).
We must humble ourselves, confessing our wrongs, prove all things, and then hold on to what is good. That is where action comes in. We must be willing to give up anything or anyone to hang on to God’s truth and His way of life after He has so generously led us to it!
One point that should be inserted here is that our foundation is based on two simple yet very vital facts: the proof of God’s existence and the proof that the Bible is God’s revealed Word, which we can rely on for truth. On many occasions, Herbert W. Armstrong told us that this is precisely where he began his studies. God even tells us, “[P]rove me now, herewith” (Malachi 3:10). God also tells us that non-believers are without excuse (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20) because God reveals Himself to us through His creation. Mr. Armstrong proved that God exists through the facts of science, the facts of matter, the facts of creation, through fulfilled prophecies and through answered prayer.
The Bible’s accuracy is proven in many ways as well. Perhaps the most compelling is the fact of the Bible’s perfect correlation with secular history. In an old booklet titled, The Bible—SUPERSTITION or AUTHORITY? … and can you prove it?, Mr. Armstrong proves that the Bible is not a book of fiction. This is easily proven to those willing to accept truth. After we answer these two questions for ourselves, we have a solid foundation for faith and an infallible authority for what is, in fact, right and wrong.
Still, we are incomplete! There is something missing. We need something else to understand spiritual knowledge. Without this, it is impossible to understand the mysteries of the ages!
Holy Spirit Needed
Notice what was written in the Aug. 25, 1986, Worldwide News. Listed as number 12 on the list of the 18 restored truths, it states, “The Holy Spirit coming into us only begets us. It opens our minds so we can understand the coded book, the Bible. Eye has not seen nor ear heard the things God has in store for us, described briefly in the Bible. God does reveal them to His Church by His Spirit that resides in us. Without that Spirit we cannot understand the Bible. Spiritual knowledge comes from the Bible, but by the Holy Spirit.”
This is precisely why the mighty men and the rulers of this world cannot understand the secrets of the Bible. “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. … But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8, 10-11).
The things of this world cannot be understood by a physical being who is equipped only with a brain. Animals all have brains, many of which are larger than the human brain; yet, they cannot understand the things of matter, science, education—music, the arts, entertainment, etc. The only things animals can understand is what God allows them to, through instinct. Human brains can comprehend these things because God has given us the spirit of man to combine with our brains. This forms the human mind. The addition of this human spirit empowers our brains with the ability to think and reason.
Just like a physical animal brain cannot comprehend certain things of this world, a human mind cannot comprehend the things of God, unless the Spirit of God is united with it. This is the third step in knowing what is truth—the receiving of God’s Holy Spirit. After God calls us to Him (John 6:44), through Jesus Christ, the receiving of His Spirit is still optional—based upon two conditions—repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.
Here is what Mr. Armstrong said about this subject in the same Good News article quoted above: “Repentance is toward God. Sin is against God. We may harm or injure people—but, we sin against God. Sin is the transgression of God’s law. Sin is the rebellion against God. It has cut us off from God.
“To repent means to be so humbled, so broken up about the colossal crime of rebelling against the holy God—so abhorrent of our own rebellious, deceitful, vain, selfish selves—that in real contrition we turn to God for mercy and change of mind and attitude, now desiring to change our ways—to be obedient to God’s law.
“Very few know what repentance really is. Then through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, we may be reconciled to God, and His promise is that we shall then receive His Holy Spirit.”
Do you see how the first two points bring us to this third point of conversion? We have to have this humbled spirit and a spirit willing to act on what God tells us. Repentance and faith in Jesus Christ both require a lot of action on our part. To truly repent, we must change our lives! To repent of something wrong in our life and not change our evil ways is not repentance at all—it is just being sorry. God even tells us in Matthew 3:8, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.” In other words, bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. These fruits must come before true repentance! We must take action against our sinful lives!
“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. … But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:14, 18). This requires tremendous action and change from our sinful ways. We must be diligent in fighting sin to become “without spot, and blameless” before God.
Of course we can never become perfect until we are born again of God and then it will be impossible for us to sin (1 John 3:9). But God does expect us to strive and grow all we can toward that goal now. We must always be willing to follow and obey God rather than men. As a matter of fact, we must follow God rather than men, regardless of the costs or the consequences.
Finding God’s Lamp
Now, with this solid foundation, it should not be too difficult to see where God’s lamp is shining in this pitch-black world of spiritual darkness. If we truly have a humbled spirit, a spirit and mind ready to act on God’s revealed word, and we rely on God’s Spirit to lead us through sincere Bible study, prayer, meditation and fasting, we should be able to see where God is working today.
Satan has confused God’s people and scattered us around since the Laodicean era began. Hundreds of “churches of God” have been formed. How is someone able to tell who is right? Is anyone right? Are all of the “churches of God” right? Can we just take our pick? Is there, in fact, one Church doing God’s will, fulfilling the commission and doing the Work God has given to be done in this end of the end time? Is there one Church that hangs on to all of the doctrines and traditions that God placed into His Church during the Philadelphian era?
This is a good place to start our proof! No one besides the Philadelphia Church of God holds fast to every doctrine and even the traditions that God established in His Church. Every other church has changed and watered down some of God’s truth. This is a simple matter of fact that can be proven easily by looking at the literature put out by the different groups of God’s people.
Remember, however, that not everything from these other churches will be wrong. The Laodiceans are still God’s people and they are not 100 percent wrong. God just says they are “lukewarm” (Revelation 3:15-16)—partly right, but partly wrong as well. Satan deceives us by throwing a little bit of good in with the bad. This has caused the Laodiceans to reject some foundational doctrines.
God does not say anything bad about the Philadelphian era of His Church (verses 7-13). So why would we want to depart from anything that God established through that era? God even warns those of us who were in that era not to depart from what He gave us—“Behold, I come quickly! Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (verse 11). How well we hold on to what God gave us during the Philadelphian era of His Church directly relates with whether or not we lose our “crown”! So says Jesus Christ through the Apostle John!
Besides the fact that only the Philadelphia Church of God (pcg) holds fast to all of the doctrines and traditions of God, there are three other major differences between the pcg and all other churches. These differences are major and they are vital if one is to prove where God is working today.
The End-Time Type of Elijah
One major difference between the Philadelphia Church of God and all other churches is the acceptance of Mr. Armstrong as an end-time type of the Elijah, prophesied to come in Malachi 3:1-5; 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:11. In the later years of his life, Mr. Armstrong certainly thought and taught that he had fulfilled this role. He only came to believe this after the fruits of his life proved it. Now some people not only deny that he fulfilled that end-time role, but they even go on to say that Mr. Armstrong never believed it himself.
Notice what Mr. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of The Ages, a book completed and published just months before his death: “It is revealed in Malachi 3:1-5 and 4:5-6 that God would raise up one in the power and spirit of Elijah, shortly prior to the Second Coming of Christ. In Matthew 17:11, Jesus said, even after John the Baptist had completed his mission, that the prophesied Elijah ‘truly shall first come and restore all things.’ Although it is plainly revealed that John the Baptist had come in the power and spirit of Elijah, he did not restore anything. The human leader to be raised up somewhat shortly prior to Christ’s Second Coming was to prepare the way—prepare the Church—for Christ’s coming, and restore the truth that had been lost through the preceding eras of the Church.”
Who did Mr. Armstrong think this “human leader to be raised up” was? Who restored the truths back to God’s Church that had been lost? If Mr. Armstrong wasn’t the end-time type of Elijah, who was—or who is? If the end-time type of Elijah still must come sometime in the future, we certainly can’t say we are very close to the return of Jesus Christ. The end-time type of Elijah would need time to fulfill the prophecy of restoring all things.
Notice what else Mr. Armstrong said concerning this subject in a sermon titled “The Unthinkable Will Happen” on July 3, 1982. Mr. Armstrong was reading and discussing the prophecy of Malachi 3:1-5. Here are the comments he made between the reading of the verses. (You can read these verses yourself from your own Bible.)
After reading verse 1, he said: “Now is this talking about [Christ’s] first coming? You’ll read in Matthew, Mark and John, at least in three of the four Gospels, of how John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy. John the Baptist was not Elijah. Jesus said Elijah had already come, but Jesus said that [John the Baptist] had come in the power and spirit of Elijah. A different man, but in the power and spirit of Elijah. Now Elijah, the same man, is not coming back until the time of the resurrection and that hasn’t happened yet. But who is this talking about here? Was that talking about John the Baptist before Christ’s first coming?”
After reading verses 2-4, he continued: “That didn’t happen when [Christ] came the first time. None of this had happened when [Christ] came the first time.”He continues after reading verse 5: “We’ve had liberals in this Church trying to turn people aside just a little bit, liberalizing, watering down the truth of God. O God, help us from that kind of thing. I hope that we’re getting that cleaned out of the Church. That’s talking about someone to prepare the way before the Second Coming of Christ—someone to prepare the way before the Second Coming of Christ …. And brethren, it’s a tremendous responsibility and you have to share that responsibility with me.”
We helped Mr. Armstrong with his tremendous responsibility by supporting him, backing him, holding his arms up. Mr. Armstrong and the Bible continually spoke of one man or someone to fulfill this prophecy of the end-time type of Elijah—not a group or a church. What an honor it is to know we helped the one to come in the spirit and power of Elijah to fulfill these prophecies!
Notice, also, that Mr. Armstrong speaks of liberals watering down the truth and turning people aside. This is all in the context of the truth concerning the end-time type of Elijah. Anyone today who rejects this truth is watering down and liberalizing truth established by God during the Philadelphian era of the Church.
Mr. Armstrong certainly believed he had fulfilled the role of the end-time Elijah and the fruits of his life proved that he did! The Philadelphia Church of God is holding fast to the truth about the end-time type of Elijah. All other churches on Earth have rejected it!
The Church’s Commission
Another major difference concerns the Philadelphia Church of God’s commission—to warn God’s people. This revolves completely around Malachi’s Message. Over the last eight or nine years, people have been asking, “What is happening to God’s Church? Where is God in all of this? Is God leading this? If He is not leading it, why has He not straightened it all out?”
Malachi’s Message answers these questions and more! Not only does it answer these questions, but it was revealed in 1989—fifteen years ago! God gave us the answers to all of our questions through this book because, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
God showed Mr. Flurry what was happening. No man could have figured this out. No man could have foreseen what has taken place in God’s Church over the past 18 years. Only God could! God did, however, require action from His loyal remnant. But that is not anything new—God has always used men to warn other men before He punished them.
“So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 33:7-9).
Why is it so hard to believe that God will warn His own people if they err? All of the other “churches of God” believe they should warn the world, but not say a word to or about God’s own Church, which is what they should do. Does it make sense that God would spend so much time and effort over the last 50 or 55 years warning the world, which did not even have God’s Holy Spirit, and then allow His own people, whose eternal lives are at stake, to just lose everything without even being warned?
Why would God not warn those He loves? Their physical and spiritual lives are at stake! Would you not warn your children if you loved them? And how would you warn them—passively or sternly? You would not stand by and let your child die while you kept silent! Why would God? The answer is—He would not and He is not!
God warns and chastens those He loves (Revelation 3:19), and He certainly loves the Laodiceans. God has always put out His warning messages through men and it is no different today. He also has always done it very sternly through perfect, godly love and it is no different today. No other church, today, believes in warning God’s people. They will lose their eternal lives if they continue to reject God’s truth. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).
God certainly would not allow them to lose their spiritual lives without a loving plea for repentance! God has shown us why, when and how this has happened to His Church, through Malachi’s Message. He has also told us what should be done during this time of testing for God’s people. Now He expects action from us to carry out this commission during the end of the end time! No other Church understands this vital truth!
The doctrine of God’s government is the first and most important doctrine that God restored to His Church during the Philadelphian era. Today, this doctrine is another truth that separates the Philadelphia Church of God from all other churches. God is going to send His Son, Jesus Christ, back to Earth very soon to bring this government and establish it over the whole Earth. God would certainly have given the proper government to His people here in the end time.
Notice what was written in the Worldwide News, Aug. 25, 1986: “When Christ comes, He will restore God’s government to the whole earth. So you can be sure the one to come in the spirit and power of Elijah would restore God’s government in His Church. When Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong came among the Oregon Conference era of the Church of God (Seventh Day) the church had the right name, the law, the Sabbath and the tithing system. But they also had a government of men with a biannual conference, voting, just like they do in the world.
“Today the government of God has been restored to his Church. That is the kind of government you find in Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12.”
This was printed as the first truth of 18 restored truths to God’s Church, through Mr. Armstrong. Also written in this section of that Worldwide News was: “Where would we be without these truths? Without them, without Herbert W. Armstrong’s legacy of these 18 restored truths—there isn’t much left.” Ten years later, the fruits have certainly proven this statement true!
God’s government is a government from the top down. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church and He fulfills the Father’s will. Then Christ places one human leader in charge and under him is the ministry. This government only works if Christ is indeed the real leader. Without Christ leading the human leader, you have nothing more than a dictatorship. This is where God’s law comes in. “But doctrinally, remember what the Church is called to help restore—the Kingdom, government and character of God. What was taken away? God’s law, the foundation of His government and the very essence of God’s character and divine life” (Mystery of the Ages).
Some of the “churches of God” have blatantly rebelled against God’s government by adopting a democratic or collegial form of government, voting just like is done in the world. Some have rebelled against this government by watering down and even totally rejecting God’s law, which is the foundation of His government. Without the foundation—the law of God—you cannot understand or come under the government of God. God’s government is a government from the top down, with its foundation based on God’s law. No other church uses this government. No other church has the combination of both factors needed to have God’s government.
This doctrine is pivotal because it is the government of God that Christ is going to restore to the entire earth very soon. He has already restored it to His people and we dare not be guilty of rejecting it. This government teaches us about the spiritual Family and the physical family. It is a loving family government that brings peace, joy, happiness. All that human beings want. We must be humble enough, however, to submit ourselves to it.
This government is what Satan and his demons rebelled against back in the beginning. They would not believe and obey God. They would not submit to the Father’s authority. Satan hates this government and he has been trying to get human beings to reject it ever since he got Adam and Eve to reject it in the garden of Eden. It would be a colossal mistake for us to commit this same sin, here in the end of the end time.
Very soon, God’s people will realize just how important this doctrine is. Soon, God will reveal when and where to go for the place of safety. God only reveals His truth through His perfect government. God could not, and would not, reveal this vastly important revelation to a voting committee. It is not up to a committee. It is up to God! (For a more detailed explanation of this doctrine and its importance, read the booklets God’s Family Government and From the Beginning.)
Did You Get It?
Yes, there definitely is a tremendous wealth of knowledge freely and abundantly given to us by God during the Philadelphian era of His Church. After God has blessed us so much, how can we turn away from any of His precious truths? After all, in Revelation 3:11, God does not tell us to hold on to most of what we have been given or part of what we have been given. He simply says, “[H]old that fast which thou hast”! God does not expect us to throw away anythingHe has given to us. He wants us to be loyal and faithful in allthat we have. This is a tremendous opportunity God has given us. We have the chance to be firstfruits in His Family forever! We cannot take this lightly. We cannot pick and choose the doctrines we want to keep and throw the ones away that we do not like. Mr. Armstrong did not discover these truths. He did not build the Church or the Work. It was not a work of men. It was God’s doing! If God built the Church and established these doctrines and traditions, then we had better think long and seriously about them before we, so casually, disregard them—any of them.
Mr. Armstrong continually wondered if we “got it.” Well, did we get the message? Did we get all of the message? Below is a series of quotes from a sermon given by Mr. Armstrong on July 3, 1982. There is a deep message Mr. Armstrong was sending. Everyone who was in God’s Church during the Philadelphian era needs to prayerfully and humbly meditate on it.
“Brethren, what grade are you in, in spiritual education? … Are you past the first grade? Are you in the second grade? Or are you in junior high or high school yet? In spiritual education, how far have you gone in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? How far advanced are you now? We’re coming up to the time of final exams! Are you going to be able to pass the grade and get into the Kingdom?
“I want to arouse you to think! We’ve been just taking things for granted. We have been just stupefied. We haven’t been awake! … When will you wake up, brethren? …
“Brethren, I only say this because I want you in the Kingdom with me and I am beginning to wonder how many are going to be there. We can’t just take this nonchalantly and I think too many of us are. … And you’re going to find you’re going to be tested as to whether you are willing to even give your life, if necessary, for the truth. Do you love it that much?
“You’re going to be tried and tested in the next few years as never before! … It’s not going to be easy! It’s not going to be just peaches and ice cream from here on and just getting into the Kingdom of God, and everything is going to be all wonderful. We’re going to be tried and tested and purified!
“Have you got what it takes? Are you going to be able? We’re right close to final exams. We are supposed to have been learning. How far are you? Are you still back in first grade or are you only in second or third grade? Where are we brethren? Where are each one of you? Ask yourselves that question. Not the one next to you—Ask you, yourself. … You’re going to have to stand up and be counted. Have you got what it takes? It’s going to cost you money. It’s going to cost you everything. Where are you going to be brethren? …
“Well, brethren, I just know that we’re in very perilous times, in the very last days. I don’t like to have to come and talk this way and tell you about it. I’d like to just tell you everything is nice and easy, and going to be easy, and everything is just wonderful—and it will be! But, I have to tell you the bad news is going to come first. Your metal is going to be tried brethren! Are you going to come through? …
“We’re going to be tried as we never have been tried before and very, very soon. This isn’t going to go on this way forever …. What about us? Are we going to survive? Some of us won’t, brethren. And I hope it’s not many of us that won’t, but I know some of us won’t. …
“Well, talking isn’t going to do it. It’s a case of—did you get the message?”
God has already revealed His truth to us. All we have to do is hold fast to all that He has poured out to us. If we do this—if we maintain a humble spirit, ready and eager to take action when God reveals His Word to us—if we rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us through Bible study, prayer, fasting and meditation—and then, if we hold fast with all our might to every truth God has blessed us with—then we can indeed knowwhat is right and what is wrong. It is not a matter of being an intellectual or a scholar. It is not a matter of superior intellect at all. It is simply a matter of submission and obedience to our great God!
So now, are you ready to answer the question? “Do you know you have the truth?” Will you prove it for yourself?!
From the Archives: The Philadelphia News, August 1996