It is a long-accepted truism that mankind is a bundle of extremes. Like a pendulum, at one time men’s opinion on a matter may swing one way and the next time the other way. For example, years ago baggy pants were the fashion. Now trendy pants are as tight as they can be!
But at most times men tend to be “polarized” — some people are camped in one opinion while others are camped in an opposite opinion. America’s well-established two-party political system is a good example of polarity.
Within each camp are degrees of opinion — from mild or moderate, to strong, to ultra or extreme. Thus, for example, we say that some people lean to the far right while others lean to the far left. We also say that some persons or groups hold opinions that are “left of center” or “right of center.”
However, there are a few who seek to be in, or take, the “middle of the road.” They seek a balanced perspective. Or else they may just be perpetual “fence sitters!” — unable to decide one way or the other. Israel’s prophet Elijah took the people to task for their ambivalence toward true worship. He asked them: “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).
The last theological seminary I attended claims to be “centrist.” The implication is that some theological seminaries (and religions as well) lean on the more “conservative” (or right) side, while others lean more toward the “liberal/modern” (or left) side.
So it goes with perspectives in politics and governance, economic policy, media, academe, the arts, entertainment, fashion, family and individuals. Each group or individual tends to lean one way or the other.
The irony of it all is that each group or individual often, if not always, thinks their position is the right or correct one, while that of the others is wrong. Is it any wonder that there is so much confusion and conflict of opinion in the world — even resulting in wars?
Is it God’s design?
Did God design mankind to be so divided in perspective toward life and society? Evidently we see great variety in all of creation. We see variety in the races and sub-races of plants, animals and mankind. Did God also design that the different races of men would have different beliefs and practices — as we see existing in the world right now?
When God had created the first man [Adam] and the first woman [Eve] He looked at them, including the other creatures He made on the sixth day of creation, and God judged man as originally “very good” (Genesis 1:24-31). As such, mankind was designed to multiply (even into millions and billions) and yet live together in peace and harmony.
Sadly, that’s not how mankind turned out to be. We have seen the mess that mankind has made of itself and this our lovely planet earth these almost 6,000 years of human history. That mess is ever worsening until it reaches a point where all life on earth is threatened with total extinction — unless God intervenes (Matthew 24:21-22). [See: “The Next Chapter of History.”]
The mess began in the well-told story about the Garden of Eden, where God placed our first parents, Adam and Eve. Following Eve’s lead, Adam also partook of the fruit of the tree God had forbidden them, the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:8-9, 16-17; 3:1-12, etc.).
Like the nation of Israel when they had no king, Adam and Eve rejected the rule of their Creator and God. As God had warned about eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and all of his descendants have done what is “right” in their own eyes (Judges 17:6; 21:25). And, as Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 doubly declare: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” [See: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!“ The Flaming Sword East of Eden, Is There Ever Any Good in Man? and A Law-abiding Universe — But Man!]
Mankind not without God’s witness
Since the mess begun at Eden, mankind has been mired in trouble after trouble, all leading to death (Romans 5:12-14). But all through the some 6,000 years of man’s sordid history, God has not left us without a witness (Acts 14:17) about His existence and His purpose for all of creation.
In His desire to save our self-destructing human race, which He made in His own image or likeness (Genesis 1:26-27), God has appointed prophets to give witness to the world about God’s purpose and plan to save us sinful and death-destined mankind. But, sadly, those who are truly God’s “witnesses” have not been received well by mankind as a whole:
- Abel witnessed to God’s righteous way by offering a sacrifice acceptable to God, but in a fit of jealousy and hatred his elder brother Cain murdered him (Genesis 4:15; Hebrews 11:4). Jude 11 warns about mankind’s going in the evil “way of Cain.”
- God sent Enoch to prophesy about God’s future intervention in the affairs of men (Genesis 5:21-24; Jude 14-15; Hebrews 11:5). God chose to remove Enoch [at the “young” age of 365 (Genesis 5:23), when the lifespan of man ranged between 800 and 900 years] from a society that was becoming increasingly violent (Genesis 6:1-8, etc.) and rejecting God’s way.
- God chose to save Noah and his family from out of all the wicked generations of men he lived with, so he could give them a witness about God’s plan to destroy evil mankind through a worldwide flood, in hopes men would repent. But people didn’t believe Noah, much less repent of their evil ways. They may have jeered at him as some “crackpot” who was building a huge boat in the middle of no water (Genesis 6:8-10:1, etc.; Hebrews 11:7). As the swirling flood waters came and swallowed them up, many may have realized that Noah was right all along after all, but it was too late for them to change things. Thankfully those people will have their chance for salvation at a future time (Revelation 20:5). [See: This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.] Noah’s strong witness and that of the calamitous flood will help them repent.
- Abraham, whom God called “a prophet” (Genesis 20:7), witnessed to all people he met about his faith in God despite his human failings (Genesis 21-24; Hebrews 11:8-19). Most of his descendants, the children of Israel, didn’t have a similar faith (John 8:31-40, etc.), but Abraham’s witness will help them to change, believe God truly, and be saved. [See: God’s Kingdom and Israel and The Children of Abraham.]
- All the prophets of the Old Testament (including John the Baptist) testified about God’s righteous ways and called people to repentance. But most people did not heed the prophets. They, in fact, killed most of them (Matthew 5:12; 23:29-37).
- Jesus Christ was the greatest of all prophets. He witnessed to the world what His Father had told Him to say (John 8:28) but most people rejected Him and His word (John 1:11; 3:19-20; 8:12; Isaiah 53:3). Finally men had Jesus killed. But He rose from the dead and lives forever, to complete God’s purpose for man at His soon return. [See: The True Christ and Two Goats Together.]
- The apostles of Jesus went on to witness to the world about His life, works, teachings, death, resurrection, and His return to establish God’s kingdom on this earth. Quite a number of Jews and Gentiles believed. But through the next centuries false preachers (or prophets) have promoted a false “Christ” and a distorted presentation of His teachings. [See: Beware of False Prophets, Fake News, The Law of Christ, Is Jesus Your Lord — Really? and Being and Doing.]
- Just before the bodily return of Jesus to earth God’s “two witnesses” will prophesy about God’s holy ways and things to come. They will tell the truth about why the world is the way it is and will ask people to repent. Most people will not believe those witnesses. They will feel so tormented by the message of these two witnesses that they will have them killed (Revelation 11:3-13).
The sure word of prophecy
2 Peter 11:19-21 assures us: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed [the KJV renders this as “a more sure word of prophecy”], which you would do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day [of Christ’s return] dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Prophecy is not just about “foretelling” a future event before it happens. Prophecy also includes “telling forth” — explaining the will and mind of God on all matters. And God chooses whom He sends to speak for Him. Such a prophet of God would rightly preface his message with “Thus says the LORD.”
For more on the sure word of prophecy, see this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE , select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklet titled “The Proof of the Bible.” See also this link: www.ucg.org, GN September-October 2013 issue featuring “God’s purpose for Prophecy.”
Since God’s Holy Spirit inspired the men and women of God who have written parts of the Holy Scriptures, the proper interpretation or expounding of God’s Word is only possible also through the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12 lists a good number of gifts of the Holy Spirit that God has given to the Church of God to build it up (Verses 4-11, 28).
Two important gifts of God’s Spirit are the “word of wisdom” and the “word of knowledge” (Verse 8). Through these gifts God’s servants are able to teach God’s truth faithfully. As Jesus promised, God has sent the Holy Spirit (His power and authority) as the “Helper” [Greek, parakletos] to guide His servants “into all truth” (John 14:26; 16:13).
An end-time teacher
In the face of so much religious and moral confusion in these “latter days” God will not leave His people — as well as the world — without a witness of His truth. Jesus promised that, before the end of this present evil age, the authentic gospel of the kingdom of God which He and His servants preached would be preached in all the world (Matthew 24:14).
In the decades of the 1930s up to his death in 1986, one teacher of the Bible emerged as a “prophet” who preached like “the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). Herbert W. Armstrong, founder and pastor-general of the Radio Church of God (later renamed Worldwide Church of God), spoke like Jesus — as one having “authority,” and “not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29; Mark 1:22).
At the WCG’s peak, the Church’s baptized members reached over 100,000 worldwide. Tens of thousands who have not become church members have heard or read the good news of God’s coming kingdom as a witness to them (Matthew 24:14).
Because of the boldness and certainty in his preaching and teaching, Mr. Armstrong was described as “authoritarian” and “autocratic.” He believed and taught that, in order to avoid or dispel confusion, God places one man “in charge” of His “Work” on earth.
For a period (especially in the 1970s) Mr. Armstrong was away from the WCG Headquarters (in Pasadena, California, U.S.A.) personally preaching the gospel of God’s kingdom to world leaders. Some in the WCG leadership who “manned the fort” meanwhile caused the Church to go “off track.” Mr. Armstrong also had health and other issues.
In the late 1970s and especially in the 1980s, before his death in early 1986, Mr. Armstrong devoted his time and energy to “restoring the truths” that the Church had strayed from — to getting the Church “back on track.”
During this period of ferment some in the WCG attributed to Mr. Armstrong a similar work God did through Zerubbabel (Zechariah 4:9; Ezra 3-6; Haggai 1:1-2:4). As Zerubbabel restored the ruined temple in Jerusalem, so it was the general perception by the WCG then that Mr. Armstrong restored the WCG to where it had been before it went “off track.”
Great significance was placed especially on the “18 truths” Mr. Armstrong had restored to the WCG. Some ministers who splintered off from WCG saw this as a fulfillment of Zechariah 4:9-10, which says: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it….For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel…”
The “seven” here refers to the “seven eyes” (Zechariah 3:9) — “the seven eyes of the LORD, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:10, latter half). Proverbs 15:3 and Revelation 5:6 clarify the identity of the “seven eyes” to be the “seven spirits of God” — special angels whose function, apparently, is to report to God everything that happens all over the earth.
What is a “plumb line?”
Although this is a no-brainer, I make this explanation just the same, for the benefit of all.
A “plumb line,” as building constructors well know, is a tool that guides a carpenter or mason in ensuring that a post or wall is perfectly perpendicular or “vertical” — fully at a 90-degree angle in relation to the earth’s center of gravity. When a post or wall is not perfectly vertical, it “leans” by a few degrees, left or right of center of gravity. Such leaning endangers the post or wall, making it unstable and vulnerable to leaning further away from the true vertical and — as the leaning continues — the structure could collapse or fall.
The famous (or infamous?) “Leaning Tower of Pisa” in Italy is a concrete example of this danger. Over the centuries the tower has been leaning by a fraction or more of a degree each year. Engineers have made efforts to shore up the tower’s foundation so as to slow down the tower’s leaning, in hopes of stalling its collapse. It will take monumental effort and expense to restore the tower to a perfect vertical posture. There is no guarantee, besides, that the procedure won’t result in the tower’s collapse.
The plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand
Spiritually speaking, God’s Church (compared to a temple, see 1 Corinthians 3:12; Hebrews 10:21; Ephesians 2:19-22) has “posts” (or “pillars”) and “walls.” While “pillars” could be symbolic of some of God’s people (Revelation 3:12), they can also symbolize the main structures of the Church’s teachings (or “doctrines”). Mr. Armstrong talked often about doctrines that were the “trunk of the tree” and the major “branches.” “Walls” can also be symbolic of the boundaries (or “parameters”) of God’s behavior — God’s “code of conduct,” as it were. [See: No Walls, No Ceiling? The Great Wall, No Such Thing as Sin? and Barking up the Wrong Tree.]
The “structures” that God’s servants build over the one foundation [Christ] of a “building” (as the Church is also compared to, 1 Corinthians 3:9-17) represent the works of those servants. It is vitally important to understand this: The “structures” that God’s servants (other than the writers of the books of the Holy Bible) build are not the “plumb line!” For any structure to remain stable it has to be perfectly aligned with the plumb line.
To what may we compare the “plumb line” of God?
The ultimate test of a doctrinal system that man builds is God’s Word, as handed down to us in the Holy Bible. Isaiah 8:20 says: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light [truth] in them.” This — not what a mere human being, after the prophets and apostles, writes or preaches — is the true “plumb line” of God! For any writing or preaching to be useful and helpful, it has to line up with God’s written Word — God’s “plumb line.”
Early in his ministry (in the 1930s) and up to the 1960s (when I learned about and joined the WCG), Mr. Armstrong consistently challenged his readers and audiences to not merely believe anything he or any other preacher taught. He urged people to “test [KJV, “prove”] all things” they read or heard to see if these lined up with the plain testimony of Scripture, and then hold fast to them (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Mr. Armstrong often said: “Don’t believe what I say. Believe what you find written in the Bible.”
In light of this, I must say that it is a betrayal of the core attitude of Mr. Armstrong for people to enshrine his legacy of teachings in print and on sound or video record as though these are infallible as the Holy Scriptures are. The same judgment should apply to any other writer or preacher (apart from the authors of the books that comprise the Holy Bible). That certainly includes me as this website’s writer!
A case in point is Mr. Armstrong’s teaching in regard to what or who is symbolized by the “Azazel” goat described in Leviticus 16. Like most others, Mr. Armstrong believed and taught that the Azazel pictures Satan the Devil being put away. Rather than rehash the matter here, I strongly recommend that you read carefully and prayerfully my website article titled Two Goats Together. The article also has a box (“Re-examining the roots of our beliefs”) that traces how Mr. Armstrong came to believe and teach what he did about the Azazel.
1 Corinthians 3:9-15 explains the test of the validity of the work of a servant of God. Instead of a “plumb line,” here Paul talks about the fire that will test the works of God’s servants. It is comforting and reassuring that Verse 15 promises: “If anyone’s work is burned [because it may be made of weak and combustible material — symbolic of unclear or erroneous doctrine that stems from lack of God’s revelation, not deliberate lies], he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” [See: The Flaming Sword East of Eden.]
What now, after Mr. Armstrong’s death?
Before he died in January 1986, Mr. Armstrong had felt deeply concerned about how the WCG would fare when he would be gone. Beset by several adversaries from within and outside of the Church, Mr. Armstrong was wary about who to “pass the baton” on to. To ensure continuity in the WCG, Mr. Armstrong left behind his final writings and other messages. He considered especially his last book, Mystery of the Ages, as the most important book (apart from the Bible) written in that century or much longer. The book covers major topics of the Bible. [See a copy of this book on this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE , select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the book with that title.]
When Joseph W. Tkach Sr. took over as pastor-general of the WCG after Mr. Armstrong died, the Church began to change the doctrines as they had been taught by Mr. Armstrong. Ultimately the succeeding WCG leadership deemed Mr. Armstrong’s legacy of teachings as one that “could not be fixed” and had to be “dismantled brick by brick” — “demolished.” Thus Mr. Armstrong was dismissed as a “false prophet” and a “heretic.” WCG members were considered so “blind” and so “theologically ignorant” as to have believed Mr. Armstrong. [See: About the Author.] Quite frankly, it happened to Mr. Armstrong as it happened to John the Baptist (Matthew 17:2; 21:25; 14:18). People have done “whatever they wished” to Mr. Armstrong.
As to be expected, a great upheaval rocked the WCG.
Most of the WCG members went along with the “changes,” as these were dubbed. And the evangelical community warmly welcomed the reformed WCG with open arms and embraced the WCG as now one of their own kind. The WCG (later renamed Grace Communion International, or GCI) became a member of the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF). WCG’s transition from a “cult” to an “orthodox” Church was considered by evangelical leaders as a “modern-day miracle.”
But a number of groups splintered off from the WCG. Some groups considered Mr. Armstrong’s legacy as “sacrosanct” — to be preserved and followed intact and as faithfully as the Bible. Other groups have taken the liberty to modify some or several of Mr. Armstrong’s teaching such as that on Church governance or minor points of doctrine. The GCI has revamped just about all that Mr. Armstrong had taught.
Quite a number of former (or “ex”) WCG members have, ala carte, joined an evangelical church or denomination near where they live, or near to their heart. A number of ex-WCG members have also been called by their fellow-brethren as “floating” — frustrated, devastated, or feeling uprooted by the changes and have chosen to take a wait-and-see posture. Stung by disappointment, others have become wary of all preachers and have abandoned faith in God altogether, their faith “shipwrecked” (1 Timothy 1:19). They have turned atheistic or agnostic.
As the supposed end-time fulfillment of the prophesied “Zerubbabel” of Zechariah 4, Mr. Armstrong has died without really completing the restoration of the Church. Instead, it has happened to the WCG as Zechariah 13:7 says, “Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” After Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong was “smitten” by death, the Church of God has never been as split up as it is now! It is a Church in shambles! Isaiah 53:6 fitly describes the WCG brethren’s condition now: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way.”
Leaning away from the center
The apostle Paul shows the way a servant of God should teach God’s Word: “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).
Deuteronomy 4:21; 12:32; Revelation 22:18-19 also warns about not adding to or subtracting from God’s word in such a way as to distort God’s purpose or intent and thus make God’s word contradict itself. [See:The Whole Counsel of God.]
Isaiah 66:2 shows what a proper attitude one should have toward the Scriptures: “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor [humble, lowly] and of a contrite [repentant] spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Such a person would be afraid to distort the meaning of God’s Word.
Paul also wrote about a bishop or overseer of the Church of God, that he be “…holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).
In context, Paul was here referring to how the Church leaders had been taught by him, and as he had in turn been personally taught by the resurrected Christ (Galatians 1:11-12). Since most of Paul’s teachings have been preserved as a part of the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15-16), Paul meant that a faithful servant of God — especially in our present age — must teach as the Bible truly teaches, and not just as taught by a human preacher without the teaching being validated by Scripture.
Here are some examples of how teachers and churches have leaned away from “dead center” [or should it be “living center?”] of God’s Word:
- “We are all God’s children.” 1 John:7-12 plainly shows that some are children of God and others are the children of Satan the Devil. [See: Are We All God’s Children? and The Children of Abraham.]
- “God’s law/man’s works and the gift of God’s grace cannot go together.” Titus 2:11-14 plainly says: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people zealous for good works.” [See: Freed From Bondage, Transgressions Under the First Covenant, Law Added to Law Transgressed, God’s Spirit and Obedience, Saved for Good Works, and Breaking Down our “Walls of Jericho.”]
- “Only God’s ‘elect’ now will ever be saved.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4 assures us: “For this [praying for kings and all in authority, Verses 1-2] is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” To get a more panoramic view of God’s plan of saving all of mankind, see: Predestination, This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation, God’s Feast and the Jews — Part 2 (especially the section on “the Feast of Weeks/Day of Pentecost and the Jews”), and God’s Feasts and the Jews –Part 3.
- “Every single human being will be saved — no one will be excluded from God’s kingdom.” Revelation 21:8; 22:15 and Malachi 4:1-3 plain show that some unrepentant people (hopefully only a very tiny minority of all mankind) will be excluded from God’s kingdom. [See: Why Is the “Unpardonable Sin” Unpardonable? The Universalism (“All Saved”) Issue and More on the “All Saved” Issue.]
- “We cannot fear and love God at the same time.” This is based on a skewed view of 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” For more on this question, see: Can We Fear and Love God at the Same Time? and The Four Dimensions of Christ’s Love.
- “Jesus came to abolish the Law of Moses.” Leaning on John 1:17 (“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”) many believe that Jesus came to do away with the Law of God concerning such things as the Sabbath, God’s feasts, food laws and triple tithing. For ample understanding of the truth about these issues, see: Moses and Jesus — Are They Contraries? The Two Laws in Hebrews 10, 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 The New Testament Teaching on Giving.
- “All righteous people go to heaven when they die.” Many people believe this based on Philippians 3:20 (“For our citizenship is in heaven…”). To gain an accurate teaching of the Bible on this, see: What Happens to Man After Death? This article also resolves the question about the immortality of the soul.
“Gates of hell can never ‘gainst that Church prevail”
This passage from the well-loved hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers” echoes Christ’s promise to the Church He built: “On this rock [Greek, Petra — referring to Jesus Christ as “the Rock” (1 Corinthians 10:4)] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades [Greek word for the “grave” or where the dead lie] shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
The Church of God which Jesus built cannot die with the death of Herbert W. Armstrong! But with him now dead, how could his “hands” — as Zechariah 4:9 says of the hands of Zerubbabel [to whom WCG brethren likened Mr. Armstrong] — have finished the work of building up the Church God as God’s temple? In fact that Church is now in great disarray!
But the Church’s living Head — Jesus Christ — is ever alive and in charge! One of the basic principles of Christ is “the laying on of hands” (Hebrews 6:1-2). Mr. Armstrong laid his hands to ordain a good number of ministers — this website writer included. [See: About the Author and this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb76qyaC824.] The latter is a video titled “Called to Be Free” documenting the WCG’s supposed transition from a “cult” to an orthodox denomination which took place in the mid-1990s. This video was shown to all the WCG/GCI congregations worldwide in 2004. The video (at 15:39-40 running time) shows a short clip with Mr. Armstrong, assisted by Messrs. Guy Ames and Robert Morton, ordaining this website writer as a “minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”]
As the Bible shows, laying on of the hands of God’s chosen servant imparts the gift of wisdom on the person ordained. Deuteronomy 34:9 shows the example of Moses ordaining Joshua to impart God’s “spirit of wisdom” so Joshua could take Moses’ place as leader of God’s people, the children of Israel.
The gift and grace God imparts to one ordained as a minister of the gospel of Christ will become evident in his work and words — his “fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20). This was how the apostle Paul — once counted as an enemy of the New Testament Church of God and of Christ (Acts 9:21) — became accepted by the leading apostles of that early Church. Paul wrote: “…when James, Cephas [Peter] and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised [Jews]” (Galatians 2:9; see also 2 Peter 3:15; 1 Samuel 3:19-21).
Through this gift by the laying on of hands of the ministry, God will be able to fulfill the prophecy about Zerubbabel [meaning “one sprung out of Babylon”] in Zechariah 4:9 — and other end-time prophecies, for that matter. It is not by human might or intellectual power or genius that God will be able to accomplish this prophecy. Rather, it is by God’s gift or grace, through God’s Holy Spirit, that this will be fulfilled.
Yes, the Church of God may now be “sick” — yet it is certainly still “breathing!” And its great Shepherd and Physician Jesus Christ will heal His sheep and lead them into “green pastures” and “still waters” to restore the Church’s “soul” in God’s own time. God will give His Church a truly new life — and unity — in Him!
“Unity in diversity”
One misconception about people who follow God’s law and word strictly — like aligning oneself as perfectly as possible with God’s “plumb line” — is that it will result in some kind of uniformity. The fear is that it will make God’s people all “yellow pencils” — boringly the same, with no variety whatsoever.
Did not the apostle Paul, after all, exhort Christians to “Let this mind be in you which was also in Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:5), and that “…you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10)?
Some religious groups have been known to require that their members always wear white clothes in church, and that their women’s hair should be long and flowing. While there is nothing wrong with these as such, it would be an altogether different matter to disallow any and all variations in color and length.
Any unity or oneness should be in principle, not in all details and specifics. For example, in the matter of dress the principle should be that of modesty and propriety. Paul taught about modesty (2 Timothy 2:9). “Modest” is rendered from the Greek kosmios — meaning orderly, decorous, of good behavior. People can dress in any variety of color, material or design and yet be modest and proper. Exodus 20:26; 28:42 should serve as a guideline on modesty. If God doesn’t want to see human nudity [although He can see everything that we are!], why should we? [See: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!“]
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) contain the basic principles of God’s law — a code of conduct God desires. All laws, commandments and statutes of God are based on this cardinal law on how to love God and one’s neighbor (Matthew 22:35-40). Rather than being restrictive and oppressive, God’s law is liberating to one who understands God’s basic intent for His law. James 2:8, 11 calls it the “royal law” and the “law of liberty.”
God has placed in man great potential for virtually unlimited creativity and variety, yet all adhering to sound, Godly principles. What man has done, is doing, and can yet do, has God marveling! [See: “He Marveled.”]
Jesus said: “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63)! Like any other man, Herbert W. Armstrong died “as grass” dies (Isaiah 40:6-8). But God assures: “But the word of the LORD endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:22-25).
If we are to endure forever — if we are to remain standing before God for all eternity — we should line up with God’s Word, God’s “plumb line.” Let us do as Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us: “Trust in the LORD with all your hear, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
God will lead us in the path straight to His kingdom. Will you walk in that path?
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.