Can it Be Wrong When it Feels so Right?

 

In the 1980s a song titled “You Light up My Life” became popularized by Debbie Boone, daughter of the American actor-singer Pat Boone. Debbie having come from a religious family, the waltz-tempo song, as I recall, was originally meant to be in praise of God or Christ as the “Light of the World” (John 9:5) who lights up our lives, especially in the darkness of life’s sorrows and sore trials, such as we are experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic. [See: Pandemic Pandemonium!]

One of the strongest lines of the song proclaims: “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right.” Because music speaks directly to the human heart, this line can so influence our thinking and values without our really examining it in light of God’s word, the Holy Bible, as I will be doing in this present article.

Can a thing be wrong when it feels so right?

A basic knowledge of Scripture should arouse one to react on the basis of Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 – repeated for emphasis and to show its importance to our proper judgment – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

This tells us that we cannot judge the rightness of a thing simply on the basis of whether it “feels” or “seems” right. We might add the other human senses: “looks,” “appears,” “sounds,” “tastes,” or “smells” right.

Our mere human feelings and other sensations can easily deceive us unto thinking that what we do or are thinking to do must be right just because it feels so right. Here’s where the Bible talks about The Deceitfulness of Sin (Hebrews 3:13). And that is because sinful acts often bring immediate pleasure. Hebrews 11:25 testifies that the man of God Moses chose rather to suffer affliction than to “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” – for but a brief time.

For example, illicit sexual acts [adultery, fornication, homosexuality, masturbation, etc.] may bring immediate pleasure. But it is pleasure that, sooner or later, will exact a ‘kickback” or a dire consequence on one’s mind, body and emotions  and on personal relationships. [Concerning homosexuality, see: The Rainbow Connection. As for masturbation, 1 Corinthians 7:4 tells us that “the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” God thus decrees that sex is to be engaged in only within the bounds of marriage between a man and his wife. ]

God’s laws the true basis for all morality

After all is said and done, the laws of God – as preserved for us in the Holy Scriptures or the Bible – are the absolute authority to tell us what is right [lawful, acceptable to God, moral], and what is wrong [sinful, unlawful, unacceptable, immoral]. Only God has the right to define or determine what is right and what is wrong. [See:  “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!” and The Divine Prerogatives.]

Because we human beings are “carnal” [made of flesh and blood], unlike God, who is Spirit and eternal (John 4:24), we are naturally hostile to God and cannot be subject to His law (Romans 8:7), all have thus sinned, and deserve the penalty of death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). [See:  Is There Ever Any God in Man? and A Law-abiding Universe – But Man!]

We need the Spirit of God given to us in order that we can understand and appreciate the things of God (1 Corinthians 3:11-14). Otherwise, we would confuse good for evil, and evil for good (Isaiah 5:20). We could just easily judge something as “right” simply because it seems or feels right although in God’s judgment it is wrong or evil. [See: Switching Positive and Negative and Devising Evil by Law.]

We also need the Spirit of God to empower us to obey His law (Romans 8:6-10). [See: The Higher Law of the Spirit.] In the Day of Judgment, God as our perfect and righteous Judge will judge us according to our works – whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12). [See:  Saved for Good Works and Being and Doing.]

Will doing what is right feel right?

Many have the mistaken notion that to obey God or to keep His laws is no fun but to simply become restricted and fettered. Some think of God as the supreme “Kill-joy!” [See: Freed From Bondage.] But not so to one imbued with His Spirit. Such a person will have the same attitude as that of the writer of Psalm 119, who delighted and had pleasure in God’s law. He will find great rewards in obeying that law (Psalm 19:7-11; 58:11). He will take God at His word that He has reserved for His faithful people “pleasures forevermore” at His right hand, and “fullness of joy” in His presence (Psalm 16:11).

The ultimate reward for righteousness is not merely the absence of pain and sorrow (Revelation 21:4), but the abundance of “everlasting joy” (Isaiah 35:10).

We are assured of that reward, when we fully understand, in light of God’s word, that a thing can be wrong even when it feels so right!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
25072020/20082020

 

Prophetic Timeline Mix-up!

[My sincere apologies to our readers for my failure to publish any article on this website in the past month of July. I had some problem of malfunction in both our laptop and desktop; because of the ongoing COVID 19 Quarantine restrictions on movement and services, I was unable to have my computers fixed in time. I will make it up to you, readers, by publishing an extra article this month of August. Thank you for your understanding and continued interest.]

When it comes to predicting the dates of the fulfillment of Bible prophecies, we can expect a whole gamut of opinions – and plenty of arguments! Especially controversial are the predictions as to the exact date of Christ’s return to earth, or what many have called Christ’s “second coming.” [See: The Comings of Christ.]

A good number of people or groups have put forward certain dates for such a climactic event as Christ’s bodily return to earth. As it turns out these predictions didn’t happen on the date predicted. Some have chronicled such failed predictions. [See, for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predictions_and_claims_for_the_Second_Coming_of Christ.]

Among such failed predictions is the supposed prediction by the late founder and pastor-general of the Worldwide Church of God [WCG], Herbert W. Armstrong [HWA]. HWA had written, in 1956, a booklet titled”1975 in Prophecy.” [You may access this booklet through this link: https://www.hwalibrary.com/cgi-bin/get/hwa.cgi?action=getbklet&InfoID=1375346358.] Those who read this booklet – many of them WCG members – believed that HWA thus predicted that Christ would return in the year 1975 – some 45 years ago!

I have also read the same booklet, but I had not come away with the same conclusion most had. Actually HWA did not set 1975 as a specific date or year of Christ’s return. It was, instead, a group of scientists and technologists that predicted that by year 1975 the world would see such advances in science and technology that mankind would achieve a kind of man-made utopia of gadgetry that would make life here on earth more comfortable, more pleasurable, and would improve human health and longevity by year 1975.

HWA took issue with this sunny prediction and countered by saying that, no, Bible prophecies, instead, predict a far different – a grim — scenario in the years then ahead. He based this on Christ’s prophecies in Matthew 24 (and related gospel accounts) and the Book of Revelation, plus Old Testament prophecies about “the Lord’s Day.”

When 1975 came and Christ had not returned, many WCG members became disillusioned and left the church. Some WCG ministers tried to justify the supposed failed 1975 prediction by saying that there would be some period of worldwide tribulation, and they reset the date of Christ’s return to 1982, and onward to 1992 or 1995.

Still others have since put forward other dates or years – all apparently failed predictions. Because of this, some religious commentators have dubbed WCG’s tendencies as “prediction addiction!”

Addiction still alive!

Like some addiction that is difficult to unload, some predictions have surfaced lately among “remnants” of the former WCG. [See: Where Is God’s Church Today?] One such group is the so-called “Church of God’s Faithful” [COGF]. This church has a website, where it has published its view on end-time prophecy: www.setapartbytruth.org.

I might summarize the COGF’s pronouncements about our “end times” and Christ’s return as follows:

1.) That the fulfillment of the opening of the “first seal” (Revelation 6:1-2) happened just in recent years when Joseph W. Tkach [JWT], whom HWA had appointed, before his death in early 1986, as his successor, rode the “white horse” of that “first seal,” and caused the WCG to go into apostasy and unscriptural beliefs. [See: Where Is God’s Church Today?]

2.) That JWT fulfilled the apostle Paul’s prophecy (in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-11) about a “man of sin” and “the lawless one” who would come into God’s temple [the WCG] and set himself up as “God” by reversing all that HWA had taught as God’s truths and replacing them with lies and falsehoods.

3.) That we are now in “the day of the Lord,” and that HWA had sounded the “midnight cry” (Matthew 25:6) before his death in 1986.

4.) That HWA had fully preached the true gospel to all the world in his lifetime, and anyone today who presumes to preach the gospel of Christ is engaging in a futile exercise.

Now, let me explain each of these points in light of God’s word, the Holy Bible.

The “White Horse” prophecy

It ironic that the COGF, which claims to teach as HWA had taught, has in effect disregarded what he had taught about the first horseman of Revelation 6 – the rider of the “white horse.”

In his booklet titled “The Book of Revelation – Unveiled at Last!” HWA taught that the rider of the “white horse” refers to the false teachers and false prophets that Jesus prophesied as first among the signs of the “end times” (Matthew 24:4-5, 11, 24). [See: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click  ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets,” and scroll down to the booklet with that title.]

HWA also taught that the four horsemen of Revelation were to come about in the same order as Jesus had prophesied about our end-time: the second horseman, riding the red horse, pictures the wars that came about especially as the chief among the false prophets went “conquering” and putting to death those who opposed him. In the wake of wars came famines [pictured by the rider on the black horse]. After these came death [pictured by the rider on the pale horse].

In effect HWA taught that the first five of the seven “seals” of Revelation 6 have already been opened since centuries ago, and with them have come the prophesied troubles. The fifth seal brought about the horrible persecution and death of God’s saints in the hands of the political-religious leader who continued to ride the first or white horse, during what is known as the “dark age.”

HWA also taught that those four horsemen would continue to ride and wreak havoc on the earth until they are checked by Christ. In fact, the ill-effects of these horsemen and the events of the “fifth seal” have increased or intensified over the past centuries, and will continue to do so in the coming years.

To teach, as the COGF does, that only with the emergence of JWT has the prophecy about the “white horse” and its rider been fulfilled is to “flip-flop” in the historical timeline. This is a case of forcing one’s idea or understanding upon the clearly established prophetic timeline!

What JWT has done is a fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy about end-time false prophets (Matthew 24 4-5, etc.). We might also add the apostle Paul’s warning, in Acts 20:29-30, that after his departure many false teachers would arise and mislead church members. The apostle Peter also warned about false teachers arising within God’s church (2 Peter 2:1-3). A similar thing has happened to the WCG after HWA’s death.

In addition, Ezekiel 34:1-21 prophesies about “irresponsible shepherds” [NKJV] who would oppress God’s flock in the latter days. Jeremiah 16:21 also talks about “dull-hearted” shepherds who would cause God’s flock to become scattered — just like what has happened to the former WCG! [See: Beware of False Prophets and Fake News.]

The “man of sin” or the “lawless one”

Paul wrote about a “man of sin” and the “lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 8-9) who would sit in God’s temple and claim to be God Himself. The COGF claims that this has been fulfilled, in our time, by JWT. However, this claim fails to consider that in Paul’s time, the “mystery of lawlessness” which the “man of sin” would promote, was already at work (2 Thessalonians 2:7) – not many centuries later, with JWT’s takeover of the WCG!

HWA taught that the first 200 years of New Testament church history were shrouded in a “curtain” behind which Satan was working out his design of deception through false prophets in such a way that when that “curtain” was finally lifted, lo and behold, a totally different church appeared that claimed to be Christ’s church, but was actually the “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9). [See: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklet titled “A True History of the True Church;” see also  Where Is God’s Church Today?]

JWT merely continued the work of that impostor church by aligning the former WCG with the “evangelicals” or Protestants – whom HWA labeled as the “wayward daughters” of the “great harlot” of Revelation 17:1 –- “Babylon the Great” (Verse 5), which HWA identified with the Roman Catholic Church. [See: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org (as above), and scroll down to the booklets title  “Who Is the Beast?” and “Mark of the Beast.”] The transformed WCG is now called GCI – Grace Communion International, and now a member of the WEF [World Evangelical Fellowship].

Is it any wonder that the GCI now follows the traditions and teachings of the evangelicals? Among these are worshipping on Sunday instead of God’s commanded seventh day Sabbath [see: What if the Sabbath Is Still Holy?], observing holidays like Christmas and Easter instead of God’s ordained festivals [see: God’s Feasts in the Book of Acts : Mere Time-markers – or to Be Observed? and True Worship], and non-observance of God’s food law of clean and unclean meats [see: Did Christ Cleanse All Meats?].

We might look at JWT’s proclaiming “liberty” from God’s food law as some kind of typical fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy about the “abomination of desolation”(Matthew 24:15). Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 11:31; 12:11), referred to by Christ here, was first fulfilled when Antiochus Epiphanes IV set up an image of Jupiter or Zeus and offered swine in God’s temple in Jerusalem, thereby desecrating it and causing the temple sacrifices to cease. [See:  https://en.wikipedi.org/wiki/Abomination_of_desolation.] The priestly clan of the Maccabees revolted against the Roman authorities and restored temple worship in Jerusalem.

Later, in 70 A.D., the Roman general Titus invaded Jerusalem and sacked  the temple. This time the temple became desolate and has remained so to this day.

By JWT allowing church members to eat heretofore forbidden pork and other unclean meats, the WCG has been devastated. This is not to say that the church has been destroyed totally, for Jesus promised that the church He built would never die out but would prevail for all time (Matthew 16:18), although it might become spiritually “sickly” or weak.  {See: Where Is God’s Church Today?]

It was the doctrinal “structure” of the WCG – much like the physical temple in Jerusalem – that became demolished. JWT and other GCI leaders had judged that the body of teachings which HWA left behind “cannot be fixed” and has to be “dismantled brick by brick” – “demolished.” The so-called “new covenant” teachings so disoriented the minds of the former WCG brethren, much like Adam and Eve took on a different attitude towards their Creator after they had eaten the forbidden fruit. [See: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”]  Suddenly many WCG members became hostile to God’s law. [See: Freed From Bondage and Barking up the Wrong Tree.]

We might also consider what JWT has done to the WCG as a type of what Babylon’s king Nebuchadnezzar did when he conquered the House of Judah, destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, and carried away the Jews captive to Babylon. While there, the Jews became subject to the Babylonian culture, although they remained a distinct people (Esther 3:8). Well might we say that the former WCG, now the GCI, is presently held captive in a spiritual “Babylon.” To them Christ gives this command: “Come out of her [Babylon], My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18: 4-5). [See: Drunk With Strange Wine.]

The “antitype” or actual fulfillment of the “abomination of desolation” will yet occur in some “holy place” [not necessarily a full temple] in Jerusalem in the years or months ahead! A prominent religious leader will there set himself up as God Himself, and place an idolatrous image there, maybe even offering swine at the altar! [As to how this could happen, see: The Children of Abraham  (especially the sections on “Who are the children of Ismael today?” and “A future replay!”)  and The Temple of Ezekiel 40-48.]

The “Day of the Lord”

The apostle Paul especially warned: “Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word, or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you…” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). Let us not be deceived into thinking that the “Day of the Lord” has already come, as the COGF claims – when, in truth, the events prophesied before Christ’s actual appearance or manifestation have not yet occurred! More about this later.

Jesus also said about some saying “‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand (Matthew 24:23-25).

Has the ‘Day of the Lord” indeed come upon us, as the COGF claims?

The main basis for their claim is John’s testimony in Revelation 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and heard behind me a voice, as a trumpet,” etc. COGF is right in saying that “the Lord’s Day” here does not refer to Sunday, which the Roman Catholic Church calls “the Lord’s Day.” Rather, this day refers to the “Day of the LORD” mentioned in several Old Testament prophecies. The COGF went awry when it thus claims that such“Lord’s Day” had already come, in the early days of the first century A.D., when John found himself carried away by God’s Spirit on or to that day.

Again, this is a twist on the prophetic timeline! What John saw was a vision of what “The Lord’s Day” would be like in its future fulfillment – NOT an actual reality then and there! We might compare this with the vision which three  leading apostles of Christ were privileged to see, concerning Christ as the Son of Man “coming in His kingdom” before they died (Matthew 16:28-17:9). Jesus’ kingdom had not then come to earth, but the apostles saw a vision of Christ “transfigured” – transformed in vision into what He would look like when He establishes God’s kingdom on earth – a yet future event!

A similar thing can be said about “The Lord’s Day,” in which John found himself. It is a yet future event – although it may be hastening on! Let us be careful in proclaiming what we believe to be a new “truth” from God, as COGF claims. We need to seek The Whole Counsel of God in order to establish the truth of any matter in God’s Word. Otherwise, we could easily fall prey to heresy, and be found liars!

Old Testament prophecies definitely describe that day as a “day of gloom” and “darkness” (Joel 2:30-31; Zephaniah 1:15). That day has not yet come upon us as of date! Let us not be deceived about this!

Revelation 6:12-17 describes the rumblings of the Day of the Lord, as the Old Testament prophets had declared. Have these taken place? If we are honest observers of our times, we know that the things or events mentioned in this apocalyptic prophecy have not yet occurred! But we are at the threshold of the opening of the “sixth seal.” Christ’s appearing is “at the doors” (Matthew 24:33), and they are about to open!

We have yet to see “every mountain and island, moved out of its place (Revelation 6:14). If this has happened, why haven’t we seen bold headlines trumpeting this extraordinary occurrence? So astounding would the removal, for example, of Mount Everest from Nepal or Tibet to the Pacific Ocean that the news headlines would surely shout out the event and all the world would know it– but we haven’t heard of such news yet! Neither have we heard any news about islands, like Taiwan or the Philippines for example, moving from where they are now to somewhere else in the Pacific Ocean! Earlier on, Verse 12 mentions a “great earthquake” and the sun “becoming black as sackcloth of hair,” and the moon becoming like blood. These extraordinary events have not yet taken place, although several small earthquakes have occurred in various places and times lately, and people are warned about a yet coming “big one.” Some have talked about Blood Moon, and solar eclipses have been observed.

It is when these extraordinary events take place that “the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man” will hide “themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains” and will say “to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb [Jesus]! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand’” (Verses 15-17)? Where are the news headlines that would surely detail this calamitous event? We haven’t seen or heard of any as yet!

As the “sixth seal” is opened, everyone will see the heavens rolled back (Verse 14), to reveal Christ on His glorious throne as His full appearance would shortly be revealed with the opening of the “seventh seal” (the last), which is comprised of the “seven trumpets” (Revelation 8-11). As the sign of Christ “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” appears, “all the tribes of the earth will mourn as they see Christ visibly (Matthew 24:30), to vent His wrath on all the wicked of the earth, and to gather His “elect” into His kingdom (Verse 31).

Clearly, the, the “Day of the Lord” has not come about yet, although we are getting closer and closer to it with each passing month and year. We just cannot be absolutely sure how close, exactly. All we can do is watch world news in light of Bible prophecy – and pray and be ready (Matthew 24:42, 44; Luke 21:36). [See:  “I Never Knew You!”]

Herbert Armstrong’s legacy

Many WCG members and leaders alike have looked at HWA as an end-time “Elijah” (Malachi 4:5) sent by God to” prepare the way” before Christ’s return or the “Day of the LORD” – much like the mission of John the Baptist [or the Baptizer] in announcing Christ’s earthly ministry (Matthew 3:3; John 1:22-23).

It is interesting that Jesus said of John: “But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished” (Matthew 17:12). John was both received by many as a true prophet of God (Matthew 21:26) and despised by others, like the Jewish religious leaders, whom he described as “a brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7-9). King Herod disliked John for rebuking him of his adultery and had him beheaded (Matthew 14:1-2).

In a similar manner, people have either placed HWA on some pedestal or condemned him as a “false prophet.” Contrary to his opinion of himself, some have placed all the writings and messages of HWA on the same level as Scripture and insist that they be taught as handed down and not modified or changed in any way. Others believe that HWA’s teachings are theologically flawed and must be junked totally.

The COGF believes and teaches that HWA had fully preached the gospel of Christ and of God’s kingdom to all the world, and that no other person could add anything to that work. Because of this, the COGF teaches that we must now be at the “end,” as Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

Based on my personal experience with HWA, however, I can say that he was a humbler person than what most people believe about him – whether as a “faultless” preacher or an “autocratic,” authoritarian one. [See: Two Goats Together, especially the box titled “Reexamining the Roots of our Beliefs.”]

The belief that God has completed the worldwide preaching of the gospel of Christ through HWA, and him alone, flies against the plain testimony of Revelation 11 — regarding God’s “two witnesses, who will yet preach that gospel to all the world for some three and a half years, before they are killed and later resurrected at Christ’s visible return. For a time, some in the WCG believed that HWA and his son Garner Ted [GTA] would be the two witnesses. But both Armstrongs have died, and not in the way described in Revelation 11.

So, the Bible plainly teaches that the preaching of Christ’s gospel to all the world did not stop with the death of HWA, but will yet continue through the “two witnesses” until Christ’s actual appearance. [See: Looking to Men and Leanings.]

Let us bear in mind the apostle Peter’s teaching that “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). We must seek The Whole Counsel of God, in order to understand properly the interpretation of Bible prophecy, and the true sequence of its fulfillment. Let’s not mix up the prophetic timeline!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
07082020