Hold Fast Letter
When God's Church, Worldwide began operations on Passover 1995, we did not start out to be different. That was not our intention. We were simply meeting together determined to hold fast to the Biblical doctrines presented to us by Herbert W. Armstrong, a man we had proved to be a true servant of God.
At that time we assumed that this was the majority opinion shared with the ministry and brethren of the Worldwide Church of God. It was not long before we were disabused and shown the fallacy of our theory. The truth was that most had little or no respect for Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. That situation has not changed. Indeed, the number, who support Mr. Herbert Armstrong has diminished rather than grown over the succeeding years.
Obviously we expected the ministers and brethren, who approved of the doctrinal changes made by the Tkachs, to be anti-Armstrong, but were initially taken aback by the attitudes of those who broke away from the Tkach administration to form organizations, supposedly in support of what Mr. Herbert Armstrong had taught.
Very soon it became clear that the leadership of these groups were dismantling or undermining much of what Mr. Herbert Armstrong had come to understand from God's Word.
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong had stated more than once that government would be a problem in the Laodicean era of the Church. This, by the way, shows that he understood he was living in the Philadelphia era.
In the spring of 1995, the largest breakaway group adopted a democratic form of government. A number of ministers in this organization, including some of the leadership, had either accepted, or taught, the Trinity, the nature of God, born again at baptism and the acceptance of the cross as a Christian symbol; all this before leaving the Worldwide Church of God.
None that I know of have recanted and apologized. Instead they remain in positions of authority with their new group. If Mr. Herbert Armstrong were alive, they would be removed from the ministry and the Church.
The fact that we, God's Church, Worldwide, had not changed any of these doctrines made us different. Because of our loyalty to these truths, we were accused of worshipping Mr. Herbert Armstrong. When in truth, we simply recognized who he was and what his commission had been. I say, had been, because we understand that God had trained him for the commission of taking the gospel of the Kingdom to the world and that he completed that commission.
This also set us at variance with other groups. They still feel the gospel commission is incomplete and that they have to finish it. Ironically, even if this were true, they are rivals and cannot unite to do what they say yet remains to be done.
We believe that Mr. Herbert Armstrong completed his God-given commission. Most importantly we realize that the gospel commission could not have been undertaken unless the doctrines of God's Church were correct. The fact that these doctrines are being undermined shows that God cannot and will not bless any so-called gospel work by these groups.
This also has created a difference between us and them. The gospel commission was given to the Philadelphia era of the church. With the completion of that responsibility, the Church entered the final Laodicean era in which no gospel work is done. The last work of God's Church before Christ's return will be that of the two witnesses.
Now because so many refuse to admit Mr. Herbert Armstrong accomplished his commission, they have put themselves into a time warp, by which they think they are still in the sixth and not the seventh era. We know we are in the final era and that the goal for us is to prepare for Christ's Second Coming. Part of that preparation is actually knowing that this is the final era and that time is short. It also means that we have, as noted, proved and held fast to two very important facts:
(a) God called and trained Herbert W. Armstrong to take the good news of Christ's coming kingdom to the world, and
(b) He did it! He finished it!
Our recognition of the above has allowed us to be further blessed by our Father in Heaven. One quality that pleases Him greatly is faithfulness. This is said of the saints who return with Christ to subdue the nations. ...and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful (Rev. 17:14b). Being faithful Christians allows God the Father to bless us. In this instance, the blessing is a clearer understanding of end-time chronology. This is part of being prepared for events leading up to and through the tribulation and day of the Lord.
Such information is vital for Philadelphian Christians to grasp in these end times. It is also a source of great encouragement, that God is still working with faithful Christians seventeen years after the death of Mr. Herbert Armstrong.
Our understanding of end-time chronology has also made a difference between us and other groups. Satan showed his cleverness soon after Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong died, when through the Tkach administration, he persuaded ministers to avoid prophetic subjects! Typically Satan mixes some truth with error. It was said that the Church had made some mistakes - that Mr. Herbert Armstrong had set times and dates which proved to be incorrect. In fact, Mr. Herbert Armstrong, with his natural enthusiasm to finish the work, was wary about predicting events with exactitude. He couched his remarks with phrases indicating the possibility rather than certainty of any such events happening at a particular time.
Yet the Church was in error in respect to end-time chronology, specifically with regard to the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days of Daniel 12. By placing the thirty days of 1290 plus the forty-five days of 1335 prior to the beginning of the 1260 days, the Church left no room for the day of the Lord, which follows the 1260 days of the tribulation. By this reckoning, the millennium would begin at Christ's Second Coming. The argument for placing the thirty days, plus forty-five days ahead of the start of the tribulation was based upon the theory that the Church would require a total of seventy-five days to get to a place of safety, which it was thought then would be Petra in Jordan.
Today we understand that the Church will be taken almost instantaneously to a place of safety (Lk. 17:34-37; Matt. 24:17-21, 36-41). With that misunderstanding corrected, we can now see that there are 1260 days of tribulation followed by thirty days for Christ to subdue the nations and a further forty-five days to prepare Jerusalem and the Messianic temple for the commencement of the millennium on the 1335th day, the Feast of Pentecost.
The Church further compounded this error, in respect to end-time chronology, by pushing the three and one-half years for the tribulation back to two and one-half years, to make room for one year to include the day of the Lord, yet the Bible clearly gives a full three and one-half years for the tribulation and today we know the day of the Lord lasts thirty days.
God's Church, Worldwide has understood this revised chronology since 1995. This also made us different. Apart from this Church group, I know of no other which has this understanding. A fear of being unable to get prophecy right has frozen most ministers in the incorrect understanding the Church had in 1986.
In properly assessing Mr. Herbert Armstrong and his work, God's Church, Worldwide came to the following conclusions.
He completed the commission he was called to do, which involved restoring lost doctrine to God's Church, and on that foundation he took the true gospel as an announcement to the world.
With the completion of that commission, we officially entered the end times (Mt. 24:14).
Beyond his commission, Mr. Herbert Armstrong explained end-time chronology based on a good overview, but speculated about the details. In fact he stated that his commission was not to be an expert on chronology.
This should not surprise us since this information could not be understood until the Church entered the end times, which did not begin until Mr. Herbert Armstrong died in January 1986. He did have a good overview of end-time prophecy, but not the important details.
A Church's true wealth is its doctrine, not its tithes or offerings. If the doctrine is incorrect, people in this age will be led to disaster, otherwise known as the great tribulation. A reading of the latter part of Revelation 3 shows that the majority of Christians living in the final era are blind and unconcerned, lacking in an awareness of their imminent danger. This seems hard to fathom when the world is transfixed with the Israeli/Palestinian imbroglio, 250,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and a United States of Europe coming on the scene in 2004. How soon people forget! Time and again Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong emphasized and warned us about the Middle East being the focus of world attention and a United States of Europe which would bring on the tribulation. These things are happening before our eyes and most Christians seem unaware!
Now the stage is set for the tribulation to begin and most Christians are asleep, which shows how little Mr. Herbert Armstrong's words sank in. In this, God's Church, Worldwide should be different. We cannot afford to forget the warnings of God's apostle. With time getting ever shorter, we must strive to fulfill Christ's command to love one another and grow in the unity, which identifies us as God's Church. I can think of nothing more pleasing in God's sight and this too should make us different.
In Christ's service.
Robert J. Elliott
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