Pastors Report - 12 May 2017

Why the Shattering?

"I heard the man dressed in linen ... that it would be for a time, times, and a half. When the shattering of the power of the holy people has occurred, all these things will conclude." (Daniel 12:7 ISV)

A recent email:

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from an individual who was perplexed about the position we find ourselves in, concerning the scattered state of God's church. Let me extract the essence of what he had to say below:

I must admit, I am extremely confused by the presence of so many groups. Most seem to belittle all the other groups and I am not learned enough to sort everything out. I am not asking to have any congregation spoken of harshly, but I truly need guidance. I am unsure of some of their claims.

Rather than reply just to the individual, I felt the issues raised deserved a wider audience so simply dropped the person a short note outlining my intention to reply within the next pastor's report. I will endeavour to take each point in turn in what follows:

I must admit, I am extremely confused by the presence of so many groups.

I agree that the present position with all the splinter groups is indeed very confusing. In actual fact, sorting out the current shattering that was once God's Church is not something a mere human mind is capable of, but requires the guidance of God Himself. And I personally believe this is to a large degree why God has allowed it — to test and train us as to what is really important. But always keep in mind that God has not gone way off somewhere. What was once true, is still true today. So if we humbly go to The God who revealed that Truth originally and wholeheartedly ask for His help, He will give it, as per Matthew 7: 7,8.

In that light, it is important to recognise that Mr Armstrong was not the head of the church – but rather Jesus Christ, who still holds that position. In addition, the Church of God – under Mr Armstrong, under Jesus Christ – was not the WCG corporation, but an unincorporated spiritual organism that was over the WCG corporation. WCG incorporated was merely a man-made structure subservient to this spiritual organism. WCG incorporated was not the Church. And neither is any similarly incorporated structure today. This is explained very clearly in the following segment from a sermon Mr Armstrong gave on 4th July 1981:

Now I might just say, by way of a little news I might put in right here, that in the past week the board that I have surrounding me now in the human level of the Church, at the headship of the Church, the leadership, is an Advisory Council of Elders. And in this past week we have been going over a constitution, and forming and carefully going over every line, and sentence, and paragraph of a constitution and bylaws of the Worldwide Church of God, an unincorporated spiritual organism. But it is organized, and well organized.

Now the unincorporated Worldwide Church of God does have a number of corporate entities under it, one of which is the Worldwide Church of God Incorporated, a California corporation. We are incorporated actually in a number of States, but the only members of the corporation are merely the officers of the corporation. But the general laity of the Church are only members of the Church of God. In other words, we are all children of God; and the Church's congregation is the assembly, group, family. We're the begotten Family of God, not yet born. ( HWA Speaks To The Brethren - 4 July 1981)

Removing the plank:
Most seem to belittle all the other groups

In most cases where people point the finger at those in other groups, they do so claiming that they remain as the one true Philadelphian Fellowship, contrasting – and condemning – "the rest" merely as Laodicean. What springs to mind is the account of the Pharisee and the publican – and it is interesting to note that this parable is found in an end time context:

  • And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, [back on track?] and despised others:
  • Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
  • The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
  • I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
  • And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
  • I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14)

And in the meantime, our attitude towards those in other groups has got to be above reproach, remembering that when we do in fact point the finger at others, we have three pointing back! (see also Romans 2)

  • Judge not, that ye be not judged.
  • For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
  • And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
  • Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
  • Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

So without being hypercritical of others, how do we determine Laodicea? It is very clear from what Mr Armstrong says below, that the Laodicean condition IS PRESENT within the current Church of God. He clearly says so. But until the actual division occurs at the start of the Tribulation – and one group is taken to safety and another left behind – no one knows who is part of which group. And it is God alone who will make that decision – not any man, as He alone knows what is in our hearts.

Well, now then, I have said that the Laodicean condition will dominate at the tail end. But I have said that all of those conditions–all the way from Ephesus up to Laodicea, all seven–are present at all the time in the Church; but that now, in the Philadelphian Era, we have the Laodicean condition. That’s what I am talking about today. It’s here. But we are not Laodicea. We also have the condition of Ephesus. We have lost our first love, and it is time to get back to it. Every one of those conditions is in this Church. ( Transcript - Sermon (1978-07-01) - Day of Fasting and Prayer)

Looking at the state of the world, and of the Church, regarding materialism, the people deciding (the meaning of the word "Laodicea") and the general lukewarmness toward TRULY spiritual things, the "era" - in the sense of being the dominant attitude in both the world and the church - is certainly very Laodicean .... but the Laodicean Church itself is not yet visible. Until one group is protected and the other is not – we simply do not know where the dividing line will be. That decision is God's – not ours. And even the Father has given the final judgement over to Christ! (John 5:22)

A humble approach:
I am not learned enough to sort everything out.

Humanly, even if we had a string of letters after our name, we still could not "sort everything out" regarding God's true Church. Paul makes that very clear in the first two chapters of I Corinthians. The church is a spiritual organism – based on spiritual truth – led by the spirit of God – obedient to God's spiritual word. Spiritual discernment is therefore needed to correctly grasp it – not human wisdom – and such discernment can only come from God himself – as Solomon realised:

  • In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
  • And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
  • And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
  • And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
  • Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? (I Kings 3:5-9)

Solomon's attitude and God's response also shows very clearly the way God responds to a humble frame of mind – a mind that accurately recognises its own limitations, placing God in His rightful place. That seems to be paramount to "getting through" to God in prayer (Luke 18:14). Often this will take fasting to achieve:

  • For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.(Isaiah 57:15)
  • For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.(Isaiah 66:2)
  • But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.(James 4:6)
  • Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.(I Peter 5:5)
Beating fellow servants:
I am not asking to have any congregation spoken of harshly

There is a passage in Matthew chapter 24 – within a definite end time context – that appears to warn against two specific frames of mind that are destined to arise when Christ does not return as soon as expected. They are eating and drinking [doctrinally] with the [spiritually] drunken, and the servants of God beginning to attack and beat each other [with the tongue]:

  • But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
  • And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
  • The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
  • And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
  • Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom... (Matthew 24:48-25:1)

The clear message found within the above passage is that God's people need to clearly delineate between the need to firmly resist false concepts and ideas versus attacking those church individuals who hold them. Verbally beating our fellow servants appears on a par in God's sight as accepting the doctrinal fornication flowing from the spiritual wine of Babylon the Great. If we are told: "Love your enemies, bless [Literally:. Good mouth] them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44) – then how much more our fellow servants, fellow "temple stones" ... even though we may currently disagree with them?

The fact is, God has allowed this present shattering. Undoubtedly, there are different lessons to learn in different groups – though often such lessons will be negative in nature – and this is probably the reason God has allowed the shattering to occur: God is allowing people to decide and is judging on how they decide - this being a clear indicator of what they regard as important.

  • As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point.
  • My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.
  • So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.(I Corinthians 4:3-5 NLT)

Towards the end of I Corinthians, Paul spells out what is really vital in our walk with God, and that is the agape love of God's character (I John 4:8,16) that should flow from His spirit within us:

  • Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not [agape], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
  • And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not [agape], I am nothing.
  • And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not [agape], it profiteth me nothing.(I Corinthians 13:1-3)

Maybe we do feel we have figured out exactly what doctrines we need to hold onto and the importance of apostleship etc...but we can often times be "right"....but not "righteous" – particularly in our dealings with others, not loving mercy and walking humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8)

Guidance from God:
but I truly need guidance.

If I can give you one vital piece of advice: Please do not try and sort out this mess relying only on human beings to guide you – including yourself. If you do you will fail. This is probably the main point that God wants us to learn at this crucial time in history – that we have to get on our knees before Him, and ask Him for guidance and help. It is the only true source of escape - rescue - from what is about to come on this world. This is something we all need to learn now, before the tribulation arrives. The only thing that will sort out this present chaos in the church therefore is the Spirit of God – not mere human intellect. May I urge you to go to God and ask Him for that help. He will not let you down.

In that light, it is interesting to grasp what was going on on the shores of the Red Sea in Exodus chapter 14 when Israel was facing a similarly totally impossible situation ... very much "where do we go from here!!" The people only looked at the physical circumstances and panicked. Moses however knew that God would save them, but did not know how. This is why he says "stay still and see the rescue of the Eternal" in verse 13 – knowing that God would have to fight for them, and the Israelites would finally stop their whimpering (verse 14). But Moses also then went to God in prayer, and it must have been pretty fervent, as Christ, almost in exasperation it seems,says "What are you doing crying to me? Just tell Israel to keep going (go forward, verse 15)". He then tells Moses how He had planned to save them.

So in our case, when God does indeed open the doors, we will need to walk forward. And that time will come – when the church will indeed be unified once more, perceived as a single entity when it flees for protection. But the only way any of us can be sure God is indeed involved in "an opening door", is if we have consistently been keeping on our knees, and building our relationship with Him. And then we can be confident that "the bread" cannot be a stone (Matthew 7:9), because He regards us as His children. But do notice the context of this verse. It is all about going to God and asking. Prayer, is the key to the entire process.

Spiritual Heritage:
I am unsure of some of their claims.

Jesus Christ tells us very clearly how to separate those who merely claim to follow Him from those who really do:

  • Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
  • Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
  • Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
  • A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
  • Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
  • Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

Once again we come to the two trees! Something we have had to realise within the present time of shattering, is that the Government of God is much more than mere "top down hierarchy". If that were all that is involved, then the Catholic Church would appear an exceedingly attractive option! But we have had to learn the hard way that God's Government is something that must always – but always! – flow down from God Himself. If those over us remove themselves from beneath what God places over them – and refuse to repent of it – then to stay beneath them means we are no longer under God's Government. This is a huge lesson the apostasy and shattering should have taught us.

In a parallel account to the above, Luke adds this thought:

  • A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.(Luke 6:45)

Satan will at times muddy the waters in his attempt to deceive, because it requires spiritual perception to properly recognise where the Truth really is. Remember – what flows down from God will always reflect His outgoing Way of Life. Mr. Armstrong succinctly explained it as the Way of Give versus the Way of Get. Being a spiritual approach, we need a constant walk with God to be able to recognise this.

And the spiritual heritage we were given from Jesus Christ through Mr Armstrong – God's Mind: God's Way of Life, as it applies to this end-time generation becomes a crucial part of that Government. It can also be described as the "all things" that was prophesied to be restored via the one coming in the power and spirit of Elijah. As I explained to someone who was attempting to sidestep this fact by saying another Elijah is yet to come:.......

The problem you have in what you say, is that if you believe that "the true Elijah" is yet to appear, you are also implying that this "coming Elijah" is going to restore "all things" to God's Church (Matt 17:11). This is a real problem when you realise what has already been restored (by God through HWA).... the very meaning of life itself, the Plan of God Himself, the very government and gospel restored and preached in all the world as a witness for the first time in 1900 years (Matt 24:14) ... if you believe this coming pseudo Elijah is going to restore something greater than the very meaning of life (the True Gospel brought to this earth by Jesus Christ Himself and then suppressed for 1900 years), then please tell me how can that be?? I await your response.

The Shattering Will End:

This good news is that the current shattered, scattered state of God's Church is only temporary! As mentioned in Daniel 12, the shattering of the power of the holy people is prophesied to eventually end. At that time, the days of Daniel seem to begin. In addition, just after those days start, the Church is once again seen as a single organisation by the pursuing beast power (Revelation 12:15). So at some time the current testing and measuring of the Temple described in Revelation 11 is also going to draw to a close. This is the same time as Zion – God's true church – is built, just before Christ's return (Psalm 102:16). It is also when "the watchmen" of Zion will indeed sing together and see eye-to-eye (Isaiah 52:8).

The event that gave rise to the shattering was the shepherd being smitten, and the sheep were scattered (Mark 14:27). We have probably lived through the greatest apostasy ever to strike God's Church (2Thessalonians 2:3) because the highest human leadership was involved – specifically targeted by Satan from the inside. But as I point out above, the reason it was so successful was that we failed to properly understand that God's Government has to flow from God, and only from God, down to and through His people. The shattering occurred when the highest human link in the Government of God was broken.

Conversely, the way the shattering will end is that there must eventually come unity, from the top ....... with "one body... one Spirit ... one hope .. One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:4-5) beneath which the entire Church can gather. Two cannot walk together unless they are agreed, and therefore, it is by that identical Way, and only by That Way that churchwide unity and stability will eventually come:

  • The [Eternal] is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.
  • And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the [Eternal] is his treasure." (Isaiah 33:5-6)

Such wisdom that brings this "stability of thy times" must come from God. As James points out, the 'wisdom' of this world never brings unity. All we have to do is to witness the mud-slinging and aggressiveness in the political arena! Nor can unity come from a whole raft of competing ideas currently found within the "wider Church". For true unity and true peace, God's word very clearly shows there must first be a true, pure wisdom. He specifically says that "the wisdom that is from above is first pure," .[and only then can that wisdom be:] "peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." (James 3:17) producing the unity and ending the shattering.

Understanding Restored:

Exactly how this will manifest itself in practical terms we do not know – though it probably will be associated with the arrival of the two witnesses. But I do know that the current chaos exists because there is a lack of understanding in this vital area – how God's government must flow down to us. So many make the claim that Mr Armstrong is an apostle – but in virtually all cases they then fail to grasp what an apostle IS. They fail to grasp that God's foundational Truth comes specifically from that apostolic source into God's True Church, and for this reason, all that wish to build together must remain faithfully aligned to it (1Corinthians 3:10).

"That Way" – that once led WCG and was delivered to us via God's end-time apostle – is God's Spiritual Law administered and applied according to its intent and principle. It applies to all areas of life as God's very Way of Life – His Agape Lifestyle. And that Lifestyle will not only transform this currently fractured Church when eventually unconditionally accepted (Daniel 12:7, Isaiah 52:8), but is destined to transform the entire Middle East, then the entire Millennial world and ultimately the entirety of the vast, endless Universe. God speed that day.

  • Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
  • Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
  • For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation...
  • Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away...
  • But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name.
  • And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people. ( Isaiah 51:6-8,11,15-16)