The Lost Century (2023)
By Gerald Flurry • January 20, 2023
A false prophet persecuted and nearly destroyed God’s Church around a.d. 70. “There ensued ‘the lost century’ in the history of the true Church of God,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote. “There was a well-organized conspiracy to blot out all record of Church history during that period. A hundred years later, history reveals a ‘Christianity’ utterly unlike the Church Christ founded (The Incredible Human Potential).
The Babylonian mystery religion pretended to be God’s own Church while suppressing the true gospel message from reaching the world for 18½ centuries! Mr. Armstrong began his study of “the lost century” with a German theological school that discussed an obscure century with two different gospels. One gospel was the message taught by Jesus Christ Himself; the other was about Christ the man, appropriating the name of Christ. The latter won out and brought real curses into God’s Church and into the world.
When Mr. Armstrong taught this truth, it electrified the Worldwide Church of God. I was a member at the time and marveled at the idea of this lost century of Church history being totally blotted out of secular history. How could that happen?
God made sure the essential Church history from the lost century was preserved, mostly in John’s epistles. That history was blotted out of secular history but recorded in the Holy Bible.
A survey of John’s epistles shows that God’s own Church is to blame for allowing the true gospel to be suppressed. Their sins and rebellion allowed Satan to attack the Church and cause all kinds of problems.
Strangely, I could find almost nothing about the lost century in wcg materials. We must remember that in the first century and in this last century, a “synagogue of Satan” operated within God’s Church (Revelation 3:9). This is a major theme of the last two of the seven Church eras in Revelation 2 and 3. What happened anciently is only a type of what is happening in this end time—there is duality.
A great false church destroyed all records of Church history during the lost century, a.d. 70–170.
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19). Persecution reduced the Church before the end of the first century.
The counterfeit church came on the scene at this time and fiercely attacked God’s Church. Whenever God’s people let down, allow sins to hang around in their lives, or turn away for God, Satan can attack with huge success because God will withdraw His protection. In the first century and today, God’s people haven’t shown enough faith to receive God’s protection.
Mr. Armstrong established the timeframe in which the Apostle John wrote his gospel account, his epistles, and the book of Revelation: around a.d. 85–90.
Notice John’s instruction during this troubling time in God’s Church: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). God commands us to continually repent in prayer for our sins so He can cleanse us. When we fail to do this, we run into trouble.
This was a very dangerous time in God’s Church. The chief apostle, Peter, had already been martyred. The other apostles too. While on Earth, Christ talked a lot with John to prepare him for service in God’s work long after the others were killed.
Remember the duality of this Church history. It is extremely relevant for us today.
John’s epistles expose how a false church replaced the true Church. Satan worked inside and outside God’s Church to cause enormous damage. Toward the end of the first Church era, Ephesus, God’s Church suffered a great apostasy! So John had to talk to God’s people about their sins.
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Christ is our Advocate when we sin, if we will just see our sins and repent. He helps the Father understand more clearly what it’s like to be a human on Earth, dealing with the pulls of the flesh.
“Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour” (verse 18; Revised Standard Version). Only John’s epistles use the terms “last hour” and “antichrist.” There is one main antichrist inside God’s own Church in this end time! He is fighting against the Church and has destroyed all of it, except for the loyal 5 percent. The same thing happened to God’s Church anciently!
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (verse 16). All sin fits into at least one of these three categories, and God’s people in John’s day were into all three kinds. This is about as bad as it could get. The same thing is happening in this end time. (Request my free booklet The Last Hour for proof that John’s epistles are prophecy for today.)
If we don’t understand and submit to God’s urgent warning message, we will face problems even worse than the first-century Church experienced!
Back then, a violent persecution raged against God’s Church. Where did it come from? “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church” (3 John 9-10).
Those who obeyed God were cast out of God’s Church by Satan and his man! How could such a church remain the true Church when the true members were being kicked out? No wonder God didn’t protect His Church! No wonder He allowed secular history to blot out an entire century of Church history!
Former leader of the Worldwide Church of God Joseph Tkach Jr. said: “We feel it is our Christian duty to keep [Mystery of the Ages] out of print. We believe Mr. Armstrong’s doctrinal errors are better left out of circulation.” That’s exactly the way Satan thinks!
God restored all things through one man in this end time (Matthew 17:10-11), yet here comes another man casting truth to the ground (Daniel 8:9-12). Any time there’s an antichrist, there’s a spiritual war.
Satan should never be inside God’s Church, but he was in the first century and in this end time.
Meanwhile, God’s “very elect” loyal remnant raises the ruins of the end-time Elijah who restored all things. Satan may have blotted out the true gospel for 18½ centuries, but God’s Church survived.
John explains how God’s people can deal with the antichrists “that seduce you” (1 John 2:26): “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:1-3; see also Psalm 17:15).
We will look like God because we will become sons of God just like Jesus Christ! If we stay loyal today, we will rule the Earth and then the universe with Christ on David’s throne. What a magnificent vision!
John says if you lack that vision, you won’t purify yourself—you won’t be motivated to overcome your sins. You need that vision! John expressed such amazing truth here, trying to save people that were turning to Satan the devil.
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). To know what sin is, we must be able to define the law. Get back to the law!
“Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (verse 12). John showed that God’s Church was in the murderous spirit of Cain. If you even hate your brother, you are committing murder, spiritually—and breaking the Sixth Commandment (Matthew 5:21-22; Exodus 20:13).
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). John tried to get the brethren to build the love of God again.
The spirit of antichrist was inside God’s Church (1 John 4:3). To resist that spirit, we must allow God to dwell in us, and we must keep the Ten Commandments.Read More