An Open Letter to the Churches of God
Anyone who was ever a member of the Worldwide Church of God when it was led by Herbert W. Armstrong was part of something great. That Church was a work of miracles.
Do you remember that glorious history? Too many of God’s people don’t. God challenges us to always keep the big picture.
Over Mr. Armstrong’s 55 years in Jesus Christ’s ministry, the work blossomed. It started as nothing and grew into a huge, Spirit-led work that spread God’s beautiful truth throughout the world.
Mr. Armstrong oversaw a work that was based on the principle of give—which is what God’s love is. By the end of his life, each month the Church was giving 8 million free monthly copies of the Plain Truth newsmagazine (which this magazine is patterned after). We gave 5 million copies of The United States and Britain in Prophecy, not to mention countless other magazines, newspapers, books, booklets, tracts and articles—all free. We made the World Tomorrow broadcast freely available on over 400 television stations.
Do you remember that history? God put our tithes and offerings to magnificent use, and we were happy to be a part of such a noble cause.
The Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, which Mr. Armstrong founded in 1975, freely sponsored humanitarian projects including archaeological digs, schools and anthropological excursions. Its activities stretched from Bombay to Brussels; the Philippines to the Netherlands; Tokyo to Cairo. We hosted projects in Jerusalem, Jordan, London, Nepal and Okinawa. Why? Because Mr. Armstrong wanted to preach the gospel “for a witness unto all nations” (Matthew 24:14).
Using the international contacts Mr. Armstrong established through the cultural foundation, God opened doors for him to meet high-ranking officials around the world. Mr. Armstrong was invited to speak publicly on many occasions, and he took those opportunities to preach the gospel—to tell people about God’s master plan and about their incredible human potential. These events opened the way for personal appearance campaigns, where he spoke to hundreds of thousands of leading people in various countries.
Do you remember that history?
In the wcg’s hometown of Pasadena, we hosted the concert series, staged in the Ambassador Auditorium, which attracted world-class performing artists and brought a standard of excellence to the community. Physically, it was the crowning achievement of a work that over decades had built great resources to draw on for the betterment of mankind.
Under Mr. Armstrong, the Church of God practiced the way of give—of godly character, generosity, cultural enrichment, true education—of beautifying the environment and caring for fellowman. Mr. Armstrong never deviated from his God-given commission, and the work prospered! His work acknowledged God’s desire to have all men saved and brought to the knowledge of His truth (1 Timothy 2:3-6). It was an inspiring display of God’s love for all mankind.
When Mr. Armstrong died, he was highly praised by leaders and prominent individuals from around the world. Even unconverted people could clearly see what a towering legacy of love and generosity he left behind and were deeply impressed by it. Certainly we in the Church all recognized on a much deeper level what he had achieved.
Do you remember that glorious history?
Now, did Mr. Armstrong do all that? Certainly he worked hard to implement God’s law and government and to walk by faith. But was the work so powerful and effective simply because of Mr. Armstrong’s intellect or advertising expertise? Did Mr. Armstrong swing open all those mighty doors?
No—thegreat God did that!
It doesn’t take great spiritual discernment to recognize that God was behind that work—God was blessing that work—God was empowering and multiplying that work—as Mr. Armstrong submitted to Him.
No man could have ever built such a marvelous and wondrous work in this satanic world. It wasbuilt and sustained by the miracles of the living God!
What truly distinguished Mr. Armstrong’s accomplishments was that they were all built upon the foundation of God’s truth. God flooded Mr. Armstrong with biblical understanding, restoring all foundational true doctrine to His Church through that man. We learned and lived by the wonderful truths of God, and our lives were richer as a result.
Right at the heart of Mr. Armstrong’s teaching was his instruction about the God-plane institution of family (Malachi 4:5-6). He taught us how to build beautiful marriages and to rear happy children. We educated our children with Youth Educational Services lessons; we provided our teens rich experiences through the Youth Opportunities United program—with its sporting events, talent shows and summer camps.
Do you remember what life was like in the Church under Mr. Armstrong? If you were applying God’s family education, then you have personally experienced the blessings that come as a result! Do you remember that?
Naturally, the Church wasn’t perfect; there were problems. Some members and even ministers did not implement God’s loving family government the right way. But the problem went beyond simple neglect. Revelation 3:9 tells us that “the synagogue of Satan” was actually at work within the Church of the Philadelphia era—under Mr. Armstrong!
The Bible is filled with prophecies that show how God knew this crisis would happen—and actually allowed it in order to test our loyalty to Him. The Bible also shows that He is going to bring every abuse to judgment. God will not be mocked! I strongly encourage you to request a free copy of my book Malachi’s Message for a very thorough scriptural study of God’s perspective on what happened to His Church.
Many of God’s people have turned away from God altogether—because of the mistakes and sins of men. They are missing the big picture.
Do the sins of men change the truth of God?
Mr. Armstrong has been dead 20 years now. But did the Almighty God who empowered his work die?
Is God too weak to do the same marvelous work today—simply because a man has passed from the scene?
“My Father, My Father”
When the Prophet Elijah was carried away in a whirlwind, his student Elisha was moved with emotion. “And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces” (2 Kings 2:12).
Elijah was not Elisha’s physical father. But he was his spiritual father. That is because Elisha and the sons of the prophets came to God through Elijah. In that sense they were all his sons.
Some people didn’t see Elijah’s office as one of importance, but Elisha saw that it was the only office that could lead and carry Israel forward! It was Israel’s only hope—then and now! He saw that, ultimately, all Israel would be governed by the teachings of Elijah. His statement, “My father, my father,” revealed a deep understanding and a beautiful attitude. God liked it so much that He used Elisha to succeed Elijah. God loved his attitude.
Some people today scoff at such an attitude, but it is very biblical. The Apostle Paul told the Church members in Corinth, “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you” (1 Corinthians 4:14). Paul considered his followers to be his spiritual sons. Why? “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (verse 15). Paul was their spiritual father because they came to God through him. He called himself their spiritual father.
Mr. Armstrong said the same to all of those who came to God, either directly or indirectly, through him.
The original Elijah and the end-time Elijah held extremely important “father” offices for God. The Philadelphia Church of God, like Elisha, recognizes that fact. This is the foundational issue that sets the pcg apart from any other Church of God group. If you follow the Elisha example in this respect, God will make you a king with a headquarters position forever. Why? Because this foundational truth points us to God the Father.
Do you view Mr. Armstrong the way God does?
The God of Elijah
After Elijah was gone, Elisha learned an important lesson. “He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over” (2 Kings 2:13-14).
If you study this account in the original Hebrew language, you will see that the first time Elisha came up to the Jordan, he smote the water but didn’t speak—and nothing happened. Then he asked the important question, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” and smote the water, and the river opened up and he walked across!
Do you want to know how to do the work of God today? How to have doors open for you—even rivers, if necessary? Here is the formula. Elisha knew where the God of Elijah was, and he was following his spiritual father. So God opened up the river for him, just as He did for Elijah.
Where is the God of Elijah today? Where is the great Almighty God who did that powerful work?
Can you answer that question? Far too many of God’s people aren’t even asking it!
God did not die with Mr. Armstrong! Yet none of the scattered churches of God have that kind of power. They don’t receive and proclaim God’s revelation. They don’t have the right government. And their works are frankly devoid of the kind of miracles and wonders that were almost routine when the work was led by Mr. Armstrong.
We must find and remain with the God of Elijah!
All baptized members of the Church of God during the Philadelphia era will be held accountable for the fact that they were with that God for so long. The tragic fact is this: Not only have most of God’s people left Him—most of them are not even interested in where He is! If they wanted to know, they would submit to God’s government and end up in God’s true Church.
The Work of the Philadelphia Church of God
The Philadelphia Church of God, which prints the Philadelphia Trumpet newsmagazine, has far fewer people than the wcg had in its heyday. But I challenge you to examine the miraculous work God is doing with this few!
In 2004, the Key of David television program received 146 percent of the response The World Tomorrow did in 1980—while it was on one third the number of stations. And in 2005, we had a 79 percent increase in the response that we had in 2004! Currently The Key of David ranks as the third-highest rated religion program in the United States. (However, our television program is really a news program with a religious base; we have to teach about world news and then show how it is fulfilling Bible prophecy.) This ranking doesn’t even include our worldwide television broadcast.
We are seeing similarly exciting growth in literature requests, website traffic, telephone calls, visit requests, and other areas of the work. We processed more than twice as much mail in 2005 as in 2004, which itself was our strongest year to date. We shipped close to 100,000 lessons of our new correspondence course in its first year.
Our college, Herbert W. Armstrong College, will be producing its first four-year graduates this spring, some of whom will be hired full-time in the work. Our building program has just reached an important milestone—the completion of our 22,825-square-foot administration building—which has enabled us to consolidate all our headquarters activities onto the 170-acre college campus for the first time.
And—most importantly—God has continued to bless us, as He did Mr. Armstrong, with new revelation. The living God did not stop speaking to His people when Mr. Armstrong died. He has continued to give us “present truth” (2 Peter 1:12) that builds upon the foundation of the truth He restored through Mr. Armstrong. The pcg produces over 60 books and booklets, the large majority of which contain new biblical understanding from the great God.
That is the single greatest proof that the God who inspired Mr. Armstrong is behind our work.
In this issue of the Trumpet, you will read about these and other of the many activities of the Philadelphia Church of God. We hope you can clearly identify the same miracles and blessings that built Mr. Armstrong’s work. Most of all, we hope and pray that you can recognize the work of the God of Elijah!
Our time in this age of man is fast running out. God is growing much more urgent in trying to reach His sons who have turned away from Him, because eternal life hangs in the balance. We urge you to respond to Him!