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TRUTHS LOST IN LAODICEA

I'm not aware of anyone compiling a list of the truths that were lost in the Laodicean era under Herbert Armstrong, so I've made such a list here.

1) At the time when Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) first came into contact with the Church of God in the 1920's, its general belief was that they had long been in the Laodicean era. However, he wouldn't accept this truth and instead proclaimed it to be the Philadelphia era.

As a consequence of this, the ability of many of God's people to distinguish which of the last two Church era messages in Revelation 3 was specifically directed to them, was severely hampered. Since HWA's death, subsequent leaders in the Church have continued to deny that the Laodicean message applies to them, employing a variety of narratives. The catastrophic result is that most brethren are not taking to heart the severe rebuke God gives this final era.

2) The Church of God in the Philadelphia era (mid 1400's until mid 1800's) knew that one man government in a Church was one of the major tenets of what was then commonly referred to as "Popery". Herbert Armstrong himself knew this early on in his ministry, but then amazingly had a 180 degree change of mind. He would often say "government is everything". He was right about that, but unfortunately he went on to implement Old Covenant "one man" government in the New Covenant Church of God, thereby displacing the true Head of the Church, Jesus Christ.

3) The Church of God in previous eras knew that God works with, interacts with and teaches individual Christians, just like human parents do with their children. It is not necessary for God to filter the teachings of the Bible through one man, or even a body of men, at the head of the Church.

4) God's people in the Philadelphia era, though often likely to suffer persecution, were far more dedicated to keeping God's Sabbath day holy than most Church members are today. If we look at the quotes from Henri Misson and George Carlow from the 1600's and 1700's, as recorded in the article "THE TRUE CHURCH ERAS", we see a "Nehemiah 13" level of dedication at that time. This is far removed from the casual attitude displayed in our present Laodicean era Churches of God, where the practice of keeping the Sabbath "in spirit and in truth" has been largely abandoned. The example set by HWA regarding doing business on the Sabbath has been instrumental in this decline.

5) The Church of God before Herbert Armstrong's time believed that ministers ought to live a simple and non-extravagant lifestyle. This knowledge was totally lost by Herbert Armstrong in the latter decades of his reign.

 

When HWA was a Church of God 7th Day minister in his early days in Oregon, he argued against tithes being received centrally at its headquarters in Stanberry, Missouri. Later however, when he was in charge, he implemented the exact opposite.

The dangerous result of this practice is that one person, or a group of people, comes to be in control of large amounts of money, and therefore able to set their own salaries and determine their own expenditure. This has sometimes led to great excesses, including in the case of HWA himself who must have been the highest paid minister of all time in the Church of God.

The practice of receiving tithes centrally is now commonplace in the end-time Churches, and is one of the reasons why so many Churches of God exist. Gaining a portion of the market share of tithes has proved to be a great motivating factor. Well does Scripture prophesy: "they shall with feigned words make merchandise of you" (II Pet 2:3).

In ancient Israel there were 48 Levitical cities (four in each of the twelve tribal allotments) where the servants of God lived and received the tithes locally, not centrally in Jerusalem. Churches of many persuasions have historically operated along the same lines as ancient Israel, providing for the needs of congregations locally. From the last century onwards however, through technological advancement, the world began to witness the emergence of individuals who became exorbitantly wealthy by preaching "Christianity" and soliciting money. In many ways their practices have rubbed off on the Churches of God.

6) Prior to Herbert Armstrong's time, the Church of God explained many prophecies according to the school of interpretation known as Historicism. HWA however, introduced significant aspects of Futurism, a Catholic school of thought which puts many prophetic fulfilments off until the very end time. For example, the seven trumpets of Revelation 8 to 11 had been correctly understood to foretell seven major events in the history of Jerusalem, from its fall to the Romans in 70AD, until the second coming of Christ. Consequently those prophecies give us an overview of the fifth and sixth millennia and, with the rest of the Scriptures, cover all of man's 6000 years. As HWA's legacy persists however, most COG's still teach that all the trumpet events are still in the future. The same futurist treatment is also given to many other prophecies, thus fulfilling Rev 3:17 where it says that the final era of the Church will have become "blind".

Please read this very enlightening history of the origin of Futurism:

https://www.gospeltruth.net/futurismandthebible.htm

7) As an example of historicism, the Philadelphia era of the Church of God understood by the "day for a year" principle that the "2300 day prophecy" of Daniel 8:14 refers to a period of 2300 years. They may have been wrong in determining the exact period involved, but unlike the Laodicean era, they did at least realise God's consistency in prophecy, and that 2300 years, not days, are intended. This seems to have been quite common knowledge in Christian circles at that time.

Well known Bible commentator Adam Clarke, in his commentary written in the first half of the 1800's, regarding the 2300 day prophecy, predicted that something major would happen in Jerusalem in 1966 (Dan 8:14 - "then shall the sanctuary be cleansed"). He based this prediction on Alexander having taken Jerusalem in 334BC, when the city actually came to be under Alexander's control in 333BC. Therefore the correct year was 1967 (2300 years later), when Jerusalem was liberated in the Six Day War from the last Gentile forces that occupied and defiled it. The Babylonians had not practised false religion in Jerusalem and neither had the Persians. It was the Greeks who started the Gentile defilement of the Temple when Alexander conquered the entire region and, having been invited into Jerusalem by its fearful inhabitants, entered the Temple and offered sacrifice (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 11:336).

Later, the Seleucid emperor Antiochus Epiphanes also greatly defiled Jerusalem and the Temple. The Romans went further, defiling and then destroying the Temple, and subsequently building a sanctuary to Jupiter, and later still, the churches of false Christianity. Finally, the Muslims built a pagan temple, i.e. the Dome of the Rock, that has at this time dominated the skyline of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount for 1334 inclusive years (from 691 until 2024). Surely this structure is the ultimate token of Satan's desire to lay claim to God's city. Although it still stands today, there are no more foreign powers enforcing this defilement. That ended in 1967, after 2300 years, when as a result of the Six Day War the Jews captured the last portion of Jerusalem that had been under Islamic military control. Of course, the days of the Dome of the Rock are also numbered (Dan 12:12).

8) Another specific example of where Futurism has caused knowledge to be lost in the Laodicean era, is in the interpretation of the Olivet prophecy. The COG's today are all pretty much on the same wavelength as they prophesy of a worldwide "great tribulation" that is going to come, during which almost "no flesh will be saved alive", prior to Christ's second coming. These terms, found in Matt 24, were in wiser days in the past known to apply to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. The "flesh" mentioned here refers to the Jews, the people of God who rejected their Messiah, and not the people of the whole world.

 

In 1724, Sabbatarian George Carlow wrote, in reference to Matt 24:20 which states "Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath", the following: "As farther proof that the Sabbath was made holy for the spiritual good of man, Christ bids his disciples pray that their flight be not on the Sabbath day; which flight was about 40 years after Christ's death" (A Defense of the Sabbath, p7). In post Reformation times, this was the standard way of interpreting this prophecy. It is only in recent times, with our total obsession of putting off every prophecy until a future time, that the current view has been formulated, showing the shallowness and blindness of the Laodicean Church.

A careful reading of the Olivet prophecy shows it to be about Jerusalem from beginning to end, not about the world at large. A comparison between Luke's and Matthew's accounts shows that the "great distress" (Luke 21:23), or "great tribulation" (Matthew 24:21), precedes the phrase "Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). As the Gentile occupation of the Holy Land came to an end shortly after the conclusion of WW2, the "great distress" or "great tribulation" cannot still be in the future.

9) In the early years of his ministry HWA correctly taught a 7000 year plan of God, including the physical resurrection of all who have ever lived, during the Millennium. He had learned this from Church of God ministers who held this view prior to him. Later, after having been challenged on the meaning of Rev 20:5, he changed his teaching to an illogical 7100 year plan which maintains that all who have ever lived are to be physically resurrected after Christ's millennial rule. Alas, another truth was lost to the Laodicean era. See the article "REV 20:5 + ISA 65:20 = A 7100 YEAR PLAN?"

10) The Church of God in the Philadelphia era had a better understanding of I Cor 14 than we mostly do today. They realised that as God works with all His people, different men may "prophesy" (speak by inspiration) in the Church congregations (or publications) and so add to the overall fund of Church knowledge. 

11) The Church of God already knew in the times of the book of Acts that circumcision was an Old Covenant symbolic rite that has no physical meaning under the New Covenant and therefore should no longer be practised physically. Herbert Armstrong strangely recommended physical circumcision to the Church, and consequently some COG brethren still practise it today.

So we see that much true knowledge has been lost in the final era of the Church. However, to those brethren who have not gone along with these errors, God states "For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you" (I Cor 11:19).

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