Pastors Report - 1 Jun 2018

"THE" Wedding Feast...

"And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God." (Revelation 19:9)

"THE" Royal Wedding:

In the last Pastor's Report – just before Pentecost – we looked at various qualities that have been lost or negatively altered – both in the world at large and by the world's Christian religion as well – regarding Royal marriage. In particular, we concentrated on THE Royal Marriage of Christ and His betrothed bride – His Church. The contrast allowed us to clearly see the vast difference between the spiritually humble, teachable and obedient true Church of God and the rebellious, self-willed whore of Babylon and her various harlot daughters. On the one hand we see apostate organisations of THIS world – masquerading as churches of Jesus Christ – who stridently decide for themselves the definition of right and wrong, true and false, obedience and disobedience .... contrasted with the true virginal Church of God who in love, honour and deep respect willingly submits herself to her loving husband – not merely by the strict letter of His word but seeks His very intent and spiritual wishes as well.

  • Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
  • For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
  • Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

But it has not only been in the world outside that we have seen this apostate Babylonian position ...

Firstfruits Attacked

Here in God's church when the apostasy struck, they attacked on a number of different fronts. But one of the main ones was the unique nature of our calling. The fact as Christ pointed out, that: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44) That God is not trying to save the world now .... On this front the apostasy attacked anything and everything that would make our Firstfruit calling unique.

How soon this assault began – albeit in a subtle way – can even be seen at times, within the last few Correspondence Course Lessons printed after Mr Armstrong's death. It is true that in the main they contain much valuable material, as most of the written content was prepared months beforehand when he was still alive, but there are problems and they can be exceedingly subtle. Here is a list of the print-dates of those in question:

Although a number of us have carefully gone through each of the above issues on several occasions, we are still coming across subtle anomalies from time to time.

One Important Example

For example, take this one, found in the Correspondence Course Lesson 27 under the section, "Church: Preparing for Kingdom of God"

"The doctrines of God's Church come from God through Jesus Christ through His Word and His inspiration in the men He has chosen to direct His Church. The Pastor General and his staff teach the local pastors, and they, in unity, teach the members of God's Church around the world. "

By ignoring the unique role God gives to His apostles the comment above added a subtle twist that allowed the apostasy to begin overthrowing whatever it pleased. A more accurate statement can be found in: Correspondence Course - Lesson 19 - printed before Mr Armstrong's death – that unlike the latter statement stresses how, scripturally, foundational doctrine was placed in God's Church only through apostles, NOT the general ministry.

"The doctrines of God's Church came from God through Jesus Christ, who taught the original apostles. These same doctrines are taught by God's apostle today, whom Christ taught through His written Word. God's present-day apostle, in turn, has taught the ministers of God under him. And, every Sabbath, these ministers faithfully teach these same doctrines to members of God's Church in congregations of like-minded individuals in many nations around the world!"

The Marriage Feast:

But there has been another problem come to light that is, if anything, equally insidious – as it concerns our position as the Firstfruits – pictured within The Day of Pentecost. Specifically, it concerns our view of the Marriage Feast .... what it is ... when it is ..... and who will be there.

The Church has always viewed The Marriage Supper as a specific event. It is described in Revelation as follows:

  • Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
  • And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
  • And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. (Revelation 19:7-9)

The above passage is recorded in Revelation after the return of Christ as part of the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15) and within the aftermath of the 7 last plagues (Revelation 16:17), but before the binding of Satan (Revelation 20:1-3). The Marriage Feast therefore is an event that takes place sometime after Christ's return and just before the Millennium and into this framework several other scriptures can then be placed – reinforcing it as a very literal occasion:

  • Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;
  • So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.
  • And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour....
  • ... Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth. (Psalm 45:10-12,16)
  • Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.... And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. ( Matthew 25:1,10)
  • But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. ( Matthew 26:2)
  • Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them . (Luke 12:37)
A Real Event:

As you can see, scripture indicates the Marriage Feast to be a real event – something those who have overcome Satan to become the Firstfruits at the start of the Millennium will not only witness but be part of. A literal meal at which they will be present. It is not a mere figure of speech but a feast at which we will sit down with Abraham and the patriarchs, the prophets, the first century apostles and other Firstfruit members from the various eras of God's Church as we collectively become the very Wife of Jesus Christ. This view is also born out by comments made by Mr Armstrong:

".... Brethren, we’re all going to sit at a finer table someday, at that Marriage Supper. That is going to be a table of real splendor, let me tell you. That is going to be wonderful. That will be the finest table at which you have ever sat, and I hope you’ll all be there. I hope I will be, and I hope we’ll all be there..." ( The Trunk of the Tree: Oct 1983)

"... Why this divine marriage – this marriage within the very family or Kingdom of God?

First, this gives us additional positive evidence that the Kingdom of God is a family – with Father, Son, and His wife. Those in the true Church of God, now begotten as heirs, are already now children of God, not yet born, who call Him Father. But, then these begotten children of God will be born of God – still His children just as Christ is still His Son – then divine – but also then we (collectively) shall be Christ’s wife.

And why? What then? Then many children will be Spirit-born of that divine union – it will greatly enlarge the divine family which is the Kingdom of God.

How? During the thousand years beginning from the time of that marriage, God, through Christ and His divine wife, will set Himself to save the world! ( Why Marriage - Soon Obsolete?)

Note the phrase, " children will be Spirit-born of that divine union" ... And the time? "during the thousand years beginning from the time of that marriage" .... so the Marriage Supper has to precede the Millennium for as Mr Armstrong elaborates:

"... once we get into the Kingdom of God and we're part of the family of God, but all the mortals on earth will not be in the Kingdom of God. So now, as we go out to convert them, they become our children. And they become through us, children of God, because we are all in the God family. And we will beget them as children, but it will be a spiritual begettal or a conversion. .." ( Teachers and Teaching - 26 May 1984)

Problem Comment:

So what was the problem comment in the Correspondence Course? It was the following, under the heading, "The Marriage of the Lamb" in Lesson 30 printed in December 1986:

... Let's now notice some interesting parallels that can be drawn between the Feast of Tabernacles and the coming “marriage supper” of Jesus Christ and His Spirit-born Church....

2. In biblical pattern, how long does a marriage feast last? Judges 14:2, 10, 12. Does the Feast of Tabernacles span the same length of time? Leviticus 23:34.

COMMENT: The seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles are like the seven days of the ancient marriage feast and are a type of the marriage of Christ and His Bride the Church. ... COMMENT: Those who in the Millennium will be added to the Bride of Christ must learn God's law in their life – and learn it well – so they can teach it to others in the world tomorrow. ( Correspondence Course Lesson 30)

Although very subtle, what the above does is to confuse the issue. It attempts to spiritualise away the reality of the Marriage Supper as a single tangible event and goal – making it instead merely a figurative "marriage supper" consisting of the entire 1,000 years. There is even the inference that others will be added to the Bride of Christ through the Millennium, removing the unique nature of the Firstfruits! And without first being married, children cannot be born of the divine union.

I hope you can see that not only is this not the way we were taught by God's apostle, but also how similar it is to other subtle faith-destroying tactics that emerged during the apostasy – particularly those attempting to negate the uniqueness of the Firstfruits.

A Better Resurrection:

Consider the trials and tests that the Firstfruits have to endure in their lives, compared to the far easier conversion experience of those living without the satanic broadcast and surrounded by God beings to guide them. As it mentions in Hebrews:

  • Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
  • Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
  • Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: (Hebrews 11:33-35)

The first 3 chapters of Revelation talk specifically to the Bride of Christ and have specific promises of rulership given to them. It seems too, that the faithful in Philadelphia and Laodicea will be given very high positions in the government of God - perhaps because of battling the end-time wrath of Satan, cast back down to earth! We Firstfruits are a unique group of people, called by God ahead of the billions that will one day be converted, and our calling is a one-off in the entirety of the history of the universe!

  • The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
  • And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint–heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
  • For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
  • For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:16-19)
Losing Vision:

Although the print date was less than a year after Mr Armstrong died, it reminds me of the confusion when the apostasy tried later to change the identity of the Azazel goat of Atonement. Instead of providing a clear picture of having Satan punished for his part in sin, they instead attempted to turn the entire symbolism upside down by saying both goats represented Christ taking our sins!! It is also similar to the classic confusion of all .... that of "God IS"! Instead of praying "Our Father" – with a clear, real example in our minds of just Who it was that we were addressing – utter confusion reigned by instead pointing the Church to a meaningless, ethereal "hypostasis" – " a concept or mental entity conceived or treated as an existing being or thing" (Websters). As someone said to me at the time, "to accept their assessment would mean talking to a blob!"

In addressing this problem there lies a profound Truth.... for: "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law (the Torah, the Way), happy is he." (Proverbs 29:18) Those who preceded us in following God's Way – our great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) – all had clear and tangible spiritual vision that built their faith and enabled them to stand steadfast. As we are told:

  • Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad . (John 8:5)
  • These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. ( Hebrews 11:13)
  • By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. ( Hebrews 11:27)
  • But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. ( 2Peter 1:9)

To endure to the end we too must be able to see in our mind's eye a tangible range of facets – facts, features – related to our overall goal. Without a clear picture in mind it's virtually guaranteed that our faith will be affected – and Satan knows this. Hence the drive to turn "Our Father" into a mere hypostatic blob ...... To remove the reality of the day we all as kings and priests will be led to view Azazel just before his influence is removed totally from this earth, saying, "Is this the [one] that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?" (Ezekiel 28:17, Isaiah 14:16) .... and to turn the vision of the Wedding Feast – sitting at a literal table and surrounded by the entire Bride of Christ through the ages – into some kind of ethereal analogy of the 1,000 year Millennial experience!

Worldly Wisdom:

Even those in the world know the value of vision. Here is a quote from a book I read some years ago that is very similar to the one Mr Armstrong read as a boy called He Can Who Thinks He Can. In this case the book is called "The Lazy Man's Way to Riches" (which shows what most appealed to my mind at the time!!) and in the passage below the writer lays down the basis of his bootstrap philosophy called "Dyna/Psyc". Although dealing only with "the around" and "the within" he certainly reinforces what Christ said of the unjust steward, "for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." (Luke 16:8) However, note carefully how clear, tangible vision is a vital part of his formula – and how applicable it is to the process we find ourselves engaged in, when "the above" i.e. the spiritual aspect, is added:

... the tasks are not numerous or difficult. You have only to RSVP to this invitation to wealth, success and satisfaction! RSVP: Read ... Study ... Visualize ... Perform. As you go forward in the program, think of RSVP in these terms:

READ – I must read in order to learn the secrets which will make my life easier, my success in every field of endeavor certain. How else but by reading can I receive the truths which come from the natural laws expressed by Dyna/Psyc? But, if I only read, I cannot really learn. I did not learn my lessons in school by merely reading them in the same way that I read the daily paper. Therefore, I must—

STUDY -- I must study these things I read. I must do more than merely apply my eyes to the printed page. I must apply myself, mind, ideas, thoughts, to the substance of the words I read. By doing this I will begin to make the power of Dyna/Psyc grow within me. That power comes from understanding, and to understand anything more than the simplest things, one must study. Once I am building that power, I will need to apply it to my life situations. I will need clear outlines or blueprints of when, where, and how to apply the new-found power. For this I will have to —

VISUALIZE -- I must cultivate the capacity to visualize, in concrete form, everything I read and study. I must learn to take a mental or written suggestion and be able to project it like a motion picture on the hidden screen of my mind's eye. I must really see those suggestions, those plans, those goals, in solid form in my mind's eye. Then they can be mine, in fact, through Dyna/Psyc.

Visualization is far more than mere imagination. It is always more complete, more detailed. In short, it has the effect of adding the potential of reality to the unsatisfying dream that is imagination. The man who creates a new and important invention often starts with mere imagination—a dream. But, as his mind ponders the idea, he begins to visualize with an ever-increasing exactness of detail. He begins to "see" his invention almost as though it were physically present in front of him. This I must do. It is not easy at first. But the unfolding of the program contained in these pages will provide many ways to help me visualize—and turn dreams into reality. I can reach that plateau of ability if I —

PERFORM -- The manner in which I perform is all outlined in great detail in the chapters which lie ahead. I have only to promise myself that I will try the outlined steps. The success factor is already built into each step. This means the scientific bases of achievement have been studied and analyzed for me in order to create Dyna/Psyc. I have only to perform the basic, simple steps outlined by reading, studying, visualizing and then performing. When this R.S.V.P. is complete ... success must be mine!

Day of Firstfruits:

Two weeks ago, Sunday May 20th, was the Day of Pentecost, the Day of Firstfruits – the First Harvest – commemorating the beginning of the God-Begotten Church that will collectively reach its God-Born destination in the Wedding Feast at the start of the Millennium... the very reason for having been called now in this age! From that point will begin the very purpose of all the effort, the reading, the study, the visualisation and meditation to make the future real. And also the heartache and tears, so .....

  • Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.
  • A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.
  • Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.
  • Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
  • Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.
  • Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:
  • That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.
  • For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.
  • As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
  • And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies. (Isaiah 66:5-14)