In Consequence

 

This is a sequel to my last article titled  “In Retrospect.” I would like to point out here the salient consequences of Joseph W.Tkach (JWT) and company’s crucial decision to junk just about everything that Worldwide Church of God (WCG) founder and Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) had taught as Bible truths and practices.

The Grace Communion International (GCI), the now totally “Protestant” or “evangelical” church that once was the WCG, now believes it is no longer required of church members to observe the “old covenant” laws that have, supposedly, kept the members from truly experiencing the grace, faith, mercy – and liberty – that Jesus Christ brought on order to save mankind from sin and death.

In consequence, the GCI has forgotten what the Bible itself defines sin to be: transgression of God’s law and commandments (1 John 4:3).  But, GCI would counter: that law, under the new covenant, is now replaced by Christ’s simple two-fold law: to “love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:35-39).  To this let our Lord Himself reply: “Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets.  For assuredly, I say to you, ‘Till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle of the law will by no means pass from the law, till all is fulfilled.  Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 5:17-19). Furthermore, Jesus said, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40). [See: The Law of Christ, Moses and Jesus – Are They Contraries? and Saved for Good Works.]

In addition, the apostle Paul wrote: “What shall we say then?  Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin, except through the law.  For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said ‘You shall not covet” (Romans 7:7).

The GCI now believes that WCG members had been needlessly burdened or oppressed by their keeping the “old covenant” laws, such as those concerning the Sabbath, the holy days, the tithes, the food law, etc.  That somehow these laws were “bad” for the WCG members.

In consequence, GCI comes under condemnation of such Scripture passages as 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.”  Romans 7:1-2, “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” [See: Freed From Bondage, and The De-liberation of the Worldwide Church of God.]

Furthermore, CGI leaders come under the condemnation of Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness [lie] for light [truth, 1 John 1:5-6], and light for darkness,” and Ezekiel 22:25-28, “Her priests [like today’s ministers] have profaned My holy things. They have not distinguished between holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in their midst are like wolves tearing the prey. To shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.” [See: What if the Sabbath Is Still Holy? God’s Feasts in the Book of Acts: Mere Time Markers – Or to Be Observed?  Did Christ Cleanse All Meats? and “Be Holy for I Am Holy.”]

By adopting the doctrines of mainstream “Christianity,” the CGI has now become a “friend” to the world; whereas previously as WCG, the church had been declared an “enemy” of the mainstream community.  As a result, God’s condemnation, in James 4:4, falls on the CGI: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with [hostility against] God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Furthermore, Hebrews 10:26-27, 30-31 says:  “For if we sin willfully [knowing what God’s law forbids but knowingly doing it], after we have received the knowledge of the truth [Psalm 119:142, 172 says God’s law and commandments are truth and righteousness], there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries [God’s enemies]…For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord [Deuteronomy 32:35].  And again, ‘The LORD will judge His people’ [Verse 36].  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

In consequence, God promises as sure to come: “Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them. I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath, and I have recompensed their deeds on their heads” (Verse 31).

Will you save yourself from this evil generation?

Seeing all these consequences – and the ultimate consequence of sin, unless repented of and forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus Christ: the “second death” in the “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:8) – will you move soon to save yourself from this evil [“perverse,” NKJV] generation (Acts 2:40, KJV)?

I hope and pray that you will!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
11062024/22062024

 

 

 

 

In Retrospect

For days the opened editorial or Personal page of The Good News (GN) Magazine, issue of July-August 1988, atop my steel filing cabinet stared me in the face. But I hadn’t read it — not until today, as I write.  And what a pleasant and refreshing surprise it was! [To access this issue, see this link: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Good News (1951-1989),” then 1980-1989, and scroll down to the issue of 1988 Jul-Aug, page 1.]

Joseph W. Tkach (JWT), who took over as Pastor General (PG) of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) and publisher/editor of the GN Magazine, the official publication of the WCG for its members and co-workers, wrote the Personal, titled “Do You Know the Lord?”  This was written some two and a half years after the death, in January 1986, of Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA), who had appointed JWT to succeed him after he was gone.

After reading the said Personal, I got the impression that Mr. JWT pretty much echoed faithfully what Mr. HWA had taught all his time as the first PG of the WCG and publisher of The Plain Truth (PT) Magazine. Mr. Armstrong strongly felt that, as the humble and unassuming “widows’ elder,” JWT would faithfully follow in his footsteps, teaching the same doctrines he had taught for decades. So much was HWA’s trust in JWT that, months before his death, HWA made a strong and frightening statement in his sermon on the Feast of Trumpets (Sept. 16, 1985) that was heard via delayed tape recording in all the WCG congregations worldwide.  Mr. Armstrong said:

If I were not here, it would be another who would be Pastor General. And if that should happen, if you want to get into God’s Kingdom you will follow that Pastor General; and you will remain united, and you will remain one. And your eternity depends on that, every one of you. Don’t you forget it!

[See: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Sermons & Bible Studies,” look on the leftmost column, and scroll down to 1985 Feasts, then to Trumpets, Side 2. HWA’s parting admonition can be heard beginning at 28:39 on the timer.]

Fast forward to 1995 and onward

What do we see?

Mr. JWT, after consulting his son Joe, Jr. and a cadre of evangelists and other WCG big-wheels, and supposedly having asked the guidance of the Holy Spirit, made a pivotal and seminal decision for the WCG. This illustrious bunch declared with one voice that all the legacy of teachings that HWA left behind was so erroneous and defective that “It can’t be fixed!” “It has to be dismantled brick by brick – demolished!” They dismissed HWA as an autocratic “cult” leader who was a “heretic” and a “false prophet!”  They described WCG members as having been “so blind,” “so theologically ignorant” as to have believed HWA! [To see a video of this religious “caucus,” Google search “Called to Be Free” and click on the entries until you find one that works. My apologies for the clumsy way of accessing the video; I had tried giving the URL, but for some reason, it wouldn’t open.]

The “New Covenant/Old Covenant” or, simply the “Changes” that Mr. JWT proclaimed in his sermon (originally given on December 17, 1994, thus known as his “Christmas Eve Sermon”) was later viewed and heard in almost all WCG congregations worldwide on January 10, 1995. The sermon was also published in The Worldwide News (WN), the official bi-weekly newspaper for WCG members; however, this issue has been removed from the WCG Archives.  The “Changes” sent the brethren on a tail spin!  Those loyal to HWA felt offended and angry, and sought to remain in “the faith once delivered.” Many gladly accepted the new teachings as “liberating,” while others were confused and didn’t know what to do or whom to believe. [To read a transcript or excerpts of that sermon and some members’ reaction to it, see: https://exitsupportnetwork.com, “The Day Joseph Tkach, Sr. Gave His New Covenant Sermon.” If this doesn’t work, Google search “Joseph W. Tkach – New Covenant Sermon,” and click on the entry that works.]

The WCG has since been renamed “Grace Communion International” (GCI), and has been warmly and lovingly embraced by evangelicals as one of their own; whereas before, they denounced WCG as a dangerous heretical “cult.”  The GCI is now a member of WEF (World Evangelical Fellowship) and the PCEC (Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches). In this regard, Jesus’ statement in John 15:18-19 is worth pondering!

With the WCG/GCI having now turned a full 180 degrees from what it used to be, I ask seriously: Did Mr. Tkach really know the Lord as he wrote in his 1988 GN Personal? I hope he pondered that well, before his death in 1995. If indeed JWT was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write that Personal, how could he have suddenly turned away from what he had written? I heard a story, attributed to WCG evangelist Dean Blackwell, a close friend of JWT, who heard the latter’s death-bed “confession” about what he has done with HWA/WCG: “I have been a fool!” Is it possible that JWT could have repented of his crucial decision  as so much “foolishness” to destroy HWA’s teachings?  I certainly hope so!  Sadly, though, it seems that his successor, his son Joe Jr., is bent on perpetuating his dad’s “folly!”

Relevantly, Paul wrote: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19).  And “Because the foolishness of God [Christ crucified as the power of God, Verse 22] is wiser than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

And to those who may have felt confused by Mr. HWA’s charge about keeping unity in following Mr. JWT in order to get into God’s kingdom and not lose one’s eternal reward, let me assure you this.  Mr. Armstrong, although used mightily by God, was only human.  Unlike Christ, who knows what’s inside the heart of every man (Acts 1:24; John 2:24-25), HWA could not see what was really in JWT’s heart when he appointed him as his successor. If Mr. Armstrong were suddenly alive again today, he would be horrified at what his successor has done to his legacy! That voids his charge to the WCG brethren about staying loyal to JWT and his son Joe Jr.!

The more important question we should ask ourselves is: “Does the Lord Know Us?” Or, to be more personal: “Does the Lord Know Me?” Jesus made this sobering statement about His soon return to earth: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say in that day [of Christ’s return], ‘Lord. Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:21-23). [SeeI Never Knew You!]

What “spirit” moved them?

I had to wrestle with JWT and company’s claim to have been led by the Holy Spirit in their decision to junk just about all of HWA’s teachings.  I also sincerely asked the guidance of the Holy Spirit when I started to read WCG literature, with the aim to prove with my Bible that HWA’s teachings were wrong!  Quite the opposite to the conclusion of JWT and company, I was led to believe and accept that HWA indeed taught the plain truth of God’s Word, and I became baptized as a WCG member.

Mr. HWA recounts in his Autobiography [ go back to the Armstrong Library, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklet titled “The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong”] how he was challenged to prove his wife Loma wrong in believing that the seventh-day Sabbath is still required of Christians today.  He thought that she had taken up with some shameful fanaticism! He studied all the relevant literature he could get his hands on and checked every claim with the plain Bible testimony, asking God for His Holy Spirit to guide him into all truth (John 16:13). HWA humbly admitted that he had to “eat crow” about his wife’s challenge — admit that she was right after all, and he was wrong! He went on to prove or disprove other teachings such as evolution, the relevance and meaning of Bible prophecy, Christian living,   etc.

It cannot be that the Holy Spirit that guided HWA to teach as he had taught was the same Spirit that guided JWT and company to teach the very opposite!  God is not — and never can be — divided against Himself (Matthew 12:25)! His kingdom will stand forever (Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 2:44; Revelation 11:15)!

Interestingly, 1 Kings 22:1-28 records the story about how the kings of Judah and Israel (who, like Ahab, were Baal-worshipers) sought the word of the prophets as to the outcome of the wars they were to engage in. As it turned out, those prophets had a “lying spirit” (demonic) which God allowed to go out in the mouths of those false prophets.  The result: disaster for the king and the people!

Is it quite possible that some kind of “lying spirit” was behind the “Changes” that have brought disaster to the brethren who followed in JWT’s lead? I believe so! [See: “The “De-liberation of the Worldwide Church of God,Protestants and Sunday-keeping,” and “Protestants and Roman Holy Days.”] Has God allowed this in order to test and purify His people during these end-times (Daniel 12:7 -10; Acts 20:28-31; Jude 4-5; 2 Peter 2:1-3, 10-22)?

My prayer is that you, dear readers, will “abide in the truth” (Colossians 3:16), and be saved!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
17052024/15062024