Right after the introduction into his Gospel account, John records a conversation between some religious leaders and John the Baptist. He is the only Gospel writer to record John’s statement: “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias” (John 1:23).
Like John the Baptist, Herbert Armstrong made that statement, quoting Isaiah 40: “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Both of those men were types of Elijah. Both of them were voices crying out in the wilderness.
John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ’s first coming. Mr. Armstrong prepared the way for Christ’s Second Coming. He was a type of Elijah doing the Elijah work. However, the Elijah work didn’t end with Mr. Armstrong.
The Philadelphia Church of God continues the Elijah work until Christ returns (Revelation 11:1-15). There is also the voice crying out in the wilderness of religious confusion today. (Read the prophecy in Isaiah 40:1-9—this is explained in our book Isaiah’s End-Time Vision. All of our literature is free.)
This final voice crying out introduces Christ to the world—“Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:9).
The original Elijah revealed the true God to Israel. John the Baptist introduced the true Christ at His first coming—continuing the Elijah work. Mr. Armstrong prepared the way for Christ’s Second Coming. We finish the Elijah work that he did and introduce the all-powerful Christ to this deceived world.
Elijah means “my God is God”—implying that all other gods are false. So those firstfruits who did and do the Elijah work throughout the ages will be used by God in the educational institutions of the World Tomorrow. We will teach the whole world about the true God—the God Family.
We are being prepared for those jobs today. The original Elijah had three colleges. Elisha finished his work. Herbert W. Armstrong had three colleges. The pcg finishes his work with one college—a type of Elisha’s work.
There is a great emphasis on education in the Elijah work. We are being prepared to establish colleges all over this Earth! We must get ready for this job. Are you ready?
The Apostle John gets very specific about how we finish the Elijah work.
In verses 21 and 25 of John 1, the religious leaders mention a prophesied individual called “that prophet.” Lange’s Commentary says it was “the ‘well-known’ prophet, a personage in their messianic theology presumed to be familiar.” This prophet was familiar to them because of their knowledge of prophecy. “This particular prophet, therefore, is meant, who should complete the forerunning office of Elijah…” (ibid.). In other words, that prophet and those people supporting him would finish the Elijah work. (This passage is thoroughly explained in our free book Who Is “That Prophet”?)
This is a prophecy of our work today!
Why was John the only one to write about this? He was the only one to talk about the voice crying out—a prophecy we know a lot about in this end time—and also the only one to discuss the work that carries on the Elijah work. This all immediately follows the introduction to John’s Gospel.
This is where John’s message starts right after the introduction—and it is about you! You who support this Work of God!
There is a connection between the Word made flesh and the Work of God today.
The Connection between the Word and the Work
God wants us to realize that when He talks about the Word becoming flesh, those people who finish the Elijah work in this end time had better know that Jesus Christ’s Second Coming is almost here! They must realize that His becoming flesh was not the end: He is coming again, this time to save humanity from destroying itself!
John the Baptist, in his Elijah work, was honored to introduce the Word made flesh—a mind-staggering event. But it gets better. The pcg is privileged to introduce the omnipotent, almighty, glorified Christ to this world!
What a grand-smashing climax to the Elijah work!
There is a reason John discusses that prophet. There is a reason that John, in his epistles, reveals the truth about “the last [hour]” and our specific work in the same context (1 John 2:18-20). There is a reason that John, in the book of Revelation, talks about the little book and “prophesy again” (Revelation 10), and describes the inner court (Revelation 11). The pcg is specifically discussed in three of John’s books.
The Apostle John only began discussing that prophet and his supporters in his Gospel message. He would discuss them much more in two of his other books, which mostly emphasize this end time.
This is the Apostle John—surely one of the two or three top apostles of all time—talking about you!
Do you realize who you are? I’m not trying to appeal to your vanity; I’m trying to help us all to see reality! We do not accept the world’s evaluation of us, because this world doesn’t view things the way God does. We are weak and flawed, but we must realize who we are!
The pcg has a fuller understanding of Scripture than any of God’s churches ever. God used Mr. Armstrong to restore all things. Now He has given much revelation to the pcg.
No two eras have been given more revelation than the Philadelphia and Laodicean eras. God has revealed more to these last two eras than all the other eras combined!
God knew the Philadelphians would play a key role in educating the whole world. So He used the Apostle John to enrich our education, which will help us build God’s colleges around this Earth.
These future colleges will be filled with God’s revealed truth, produced by the best technology this world has ever had. There will be many printed books and booklets from the Philadelphia and Laodicean eras.
God is getting us ready to educate the world!
Realize who is really behind John’s message. When John wrote this, he thought he was talking about his own time—but he was a couple thousand years off! We must not look to men—we must look to God and the Word! Only God can reveal to us about John the Baptist and Elijah and that prophet. Everything we are doing would amount to nothing if the Word wasn’t behind it. We must always look to our Head, Jesus Christ. The Laodiceans have failed here (Colossians 2:19).
To have the High Priest of the true Church mention your work is quite an honor! Just to be mentioned in that group is an honor of the highest magnitude.
This is a direct prophecy about you if you support God’s Work. Christ is giving us specific encouragement.
John made a direct connection between the Word that was made flesh and us. It is no exaggeration to say that we are a key player in this end time. We must warn the world about what is happening and prepare for the return of Jesus Christ! Why wouldn’t we be a vital piece of the puzzle? How exciting to be on the scene, prophetically just “minutes” before Christ returns! We can look at the cities of Judah, which are steadily being attacked and besieged, and we have the privilege to say to them—even more emphatically than what we have—“Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:9).
We must tell people that God is the only solution to their problems and they don’t yet know God! That is a message that will upset people!
Remember what happened to Christ? But did that make Him wrong?
What an exhilarating opportunity the people of God have: to speak for God!
If you speak for God, you know you’re a son of the Father and the Bride of Christ. Nobody else speaks for Him. You are a part of something truly spectacular.
The Apostle John did a marvelous job of bringing this truth alive!
This truth should help us conquer our trials. Of course we experience rough times—but this is the real world, this is the real Work of God, this is the real coming of Jesus Christ we are talking about! It is going to happen! Nobody can change that!
There is a reason we are mentioned right in the context of John’s introduction of the Word made flesh and of Elijah and that prophet. The reason is simply this: It’s all one. Unless we become locked into the Word the way the Word is locked into God, nothing happens. It is all one unit. Christ prayed to His Father that we would all be one as God and Christ are one! (John 17:11). That is the only way we can achieve anything.
The Lamb of God
When John the Baptist saw Jesus Christ coming, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). To strengthen the point, John repeats this in verse 36: “Behold the Lamb of God!” An exclamation point gives emphasis to this Lamb.
What lamb could take away the sin of the world? Could a goat do that? Could an angel, or just any man? No—this was the Lamb of God! A Lamb who was God had to die for our sins. It couldn’t happen any other way.
Christ was a Lamb—He truly was a martyr. All the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to that Lamb. John 1:29 connects the Old Testament and the New Testament through that Lamb.
The fact that the Jews wouldn’t believe Christ unless He gave them a sign is almost a joke! All the prophecies in the Old Testament pointed to that man who was the Lamb!
But these few disciples were really excited, saying, “We have found the Messias”! (verse 41). We have found the God who was prophesied to come to this Earth! Moses and the prophets prophesied about the Messiah, and He’s here! (verse 45).
The Greek expression Messias means the Christ or the Anointed One. Christ was anointed by the Father to come and deliver us from sin.
There had never been a bigger event in history to that time. This was the first coming of Jesus Christ! These men had every reason to be excited—and they didn’t even have God’s Spirit yet. John gives us all the names of the people who received this news with such gladness—like Philip and Nathanael—and none of the other Gospel writers do. Why? John was bringing all this to life—to make it as real as he possibly could. Here were men, just like us, running around with each other and bursting with excitement over this epic event!
John was emphasizing the search for and finding of the Messiah! There was nothing more important ever in the history of man. This was the most epoch-making event mankind had ever experienced to that point.
What did the Jewish people think? They didn’t even know what it meant!
Neither do most people today know what our work means. But they shall know. We are introducing that same Christ to this evil world. Every person on Earth will know why our work was here!
God’s true Church today has the Messiah leading us, revealing truth to us, giving us guidance, helping, providing us everything we need. We have the Messiah! So we need to be running around with some excitement! The Messiah is here! The Messiah is directing this Work—the one prophesied to come and take away the sin of the world and open up the God Family to all mankind!
If we don’t get excited about that, we have to acknowledge that we have some Laodicean traits we need to overcome. There is nothing more exciting than this.
God works with real men and women. I’m sure people called them nobodies—but they recognized the event of the ages! Everybody else was in darkness.
Let people scoff if they want to, but the truth is that we recognize something that the world doesn’t. We know that the Word is directing this Work, and that this is the only hope of mankind. We know the Messiah is here! We know this is all leading to the return of Jesus Christ. All these other events have been fulfilled to the letter, and so shall the Second Coming be!
“And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see” (verse 46).
Can anything good really come out of Edmond, Oklahoma? Only if the Messiah’s there! If the Word who became flesh is there, great things will come out of that city! It doesn’t have anything to do with the city—it has to do with knowing God and understanding what He is doing on Earth.
“Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael had a somewhat negative attitude.
“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (verse 47). Christ led him to think about his strengths and become more positive.
Christ does the same for us today, unless we shut Him out as the Laodiceans have (Revelation 3:20).
We need Christ’s encouragement to endure. The Messiah is here now to help us.
Christ knew the thoughts of Nathanael. He also knows your thoughts and my thoughts. We must change our thoughts in order to have Christ’s mind (Philippians 2:5).
Upholding Peter’s Office
“And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas [in Greek, Peter], which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:42). Mark 3:16 shows that Peter was the surname, or title, that Christ gave to Simon, designating him as the chief apostle.
Here is what Mr. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages: “In Mark 3:14, 16, we read: ‘And he [Jesus] ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach. … And Simon he surnamed Peter.’ A surname is, according to Webster, ‘an added name derived from occupation.’
“The surname Peter had for centuries been a surname or title, designating a religious leader, head or headquarters. Peter was the first and chief apostle. An apostle is ‘one sent forth to proclaim or preach.’”
What is interesting is that the other three Gospel writers often referred to Peter as Simon. John always used the name Peter (or Simon Peter). Why?
I believe this also shows John’s depth. In those 30 years he was mulling events over, he must have considered this carefully. In writing his Gospel, John was speaking from the perspective of the Word. Here was an office that the Word—God Himself—established and gave to Simon Peter.
Certainly Peter had his problems. But this was the man who God chose to lead the Church—over John and all the others. I believe that the more John thought about it, the more he realized, I don’t believe it’s right for me to write about the leading apostle of God’s Church as “Simon.” I’m going to call him Peter and respect that office. I want to view it the way the Word does!
Every time John wrote about “Peter,” it was a reminder of who he was and that the Father and the Son gave him that office! John always tried to see God behind the man.
Do we deeply see who is behind this Work?
John took on God’s perspective and tried to deeply respect everything He does! We need to do the same. That doesn’t mean we follow men; that means we follow God, who uses the men who lead us.
I certainly wasn’t perfect in this myself, but for the life of me I could not understand how the ministers who left after Mr. Armstrong died—who had preached all their lives about Mr. Armstrong being the end-time type of Elijah—could begin to talk about how they didn’t really think he was the Elijah. What hypocrites! They used to refer to him as the end-time Elijah when Mr. Armstrong was alive—what happened?
The end-time Elijah was used to restore all things in the Church of God! He did in God’s Church what Christ is going to do in the whole world. That is a rather prestigious calling!
If those ministers had learned the lesson that John did, they would still be doing God’s Work today.
John had the Word’s view. That is why I believe it is inspiring that he specifically describes the inner court in Revelation 11. By the time he wrote that vision, he knew he was talking about this end-time Church. In fact, God used him to put everything in a time frame. John didn’t just use the word temple in the book of Revelation. He spoke of a people who would reside in the inner court, dwelling right there with God.
Do you deeply understand who you are? That is the challenge that John hurls at us in this Gospel.
Nathanael was astounded. “Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:48‑49). Nathanael was now convinced that Christ was the Son of God. He knew this was the King of Israel. Soon the whole world will become Israel, when the Gentiles are grafted in.
The King of kings and Lord of lords is about to rule this world. We are being prepared to be the kings and lords under Christ.
Are you ready to be a king and a priest? We all must work hard to qualify for those eternal positions!
The Word was made flesh to make this spectacular future possible. This is not some religious fantasy. This is our future, and we can’t qualify for these offices by acting like this vision is some hazy dream. This coming world is more real than the world you see around you.
Gather Up the Fragments
John 6 relates the story of Christ feeding 5,000 people with five barley loaves and two fishes. After all the people had gotten their fill, Christ said this to His disciples: “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost” (John 6:12).
Certainly you can take the simple lesson from this that we should not be wasteful. But what was Christ really talking about spiritually? Later in this chapter He makes it very clear.
“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (verse 26). That is pretty blunt: Christ accused the people of being interested only in getting a free meal. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (verse 27).
They believed that Christ was a prophet from heaven. But did they stay with Christ? No! How hard and selfish mankind is.
Notice what Christ is saying: You must labor for spiritual food. Even in your personal Bible study, you must labor to study as you should. Spiritual food requires genuine labor and effort! After all, God came from beyond the stars—and the spiritual manna comes from there as well. Doesn’t it make sense that we ought to labor for it? That is the manna that will give eternal life (verse 33).
You can see throughout this chapter that Christ is speaking spiritually. Labor for that spiritual food. Work! Gather up all the fragments! Gain all you can from the royal education God is offering you! God is giving you spiritual manna! Gather all the fragments you can. Don’t lose anything! Gain everything you can from it!
It is our responsibility to gather all the fragments we possibly can. God is serving His people. The Logos—the Head of the Church—and the Father are feeding their Family. Then God is going to let His Family feed the world! That is why we are here!
The disciples gathered all the fragments, and they ended up with more food than they started with! But they had to labor for it.
God is telling us to labor for this bread. It is from another world! It really is bread coming from the cosmos—from the true God! It is worth all the effort we can muster to gather it up!
Do we attend all the Bible studies we can? Do we really hunger and thirst for God’s truth? This is how we build our faith, hope and love.
This Work is going to grow, and it will astound this world. But we are going to have to labor—labor—labor to gather all the spiritual food God wants to give us!