UCG Current Events a Small Preview of the Future?

The latest crisis in United Church of God an International Association (UCGia, or UCG for short) seems to indicate that the Churches of God organizations will continue to get smaller and smaller.  Evidently, there are those who desire exactly that, but I’m not addressing those folks.  Rather, I am addressing those who really want to live God’s way of life – all His ways and not some manmade way of worshipping God.

The trend within the COG movement since the Great Disappointment has been the same for the most part: Splits who later split and spin-off and split some more.  There is one obvious exception to the rule, though.  RCG/WCG under Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) grew beyond any human’s expectations.  At one point, the Plain Truth Magazine had something close to 8 million subscribers, and the Church membership was over 100,000 worldwide (I’ve seen higher estimates).

Of course, even the rise in membership of WCG wasn’t a steady climb.  It had its own splits, but it defied the odds by still climbing in membership until the death of HWA.  After the death of HWA, though, WCG was eventually shattered and splintered.

What the crisis in UCG shows, IMO, is that the trend towards more and more splits are likely to continue.

People look at me strange, but I will keep asking one key question: “Does God want a megachurch?”  I keep asking it because I myself am not sure of the answer.  However, if God wanted a megachurch, it would seem that the persecution of the disciples in the first century would have been counterproductive.  What happened instead of killing the Church, however, was that the disciples took the message of the Gospel with them wherever they travelled and the Church grew.

However, there is something different in the end time that somehow doesn’t to seem to quite fit.  There is a prophecy that has always seemed unusual.

 11Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

 12And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12, King James Version)

If there is a large organized church in the end times, then you would think that it would be easy to find the words of God.

We used to think the church would be smaller because of persecution, and that well may be true.  However, a question has to be asked.  A pretty disturbing question, actually.


Is the famine due to the fault of the Church in remaining together?


  1. John, have you by any chance read the book by Stephen Flurry titled "raising the ruins"–I do not support PCG but I have the book because of the history that is recorded in it –much of it accurate–from the days after the death of HWA until apostacy—very revealing about how corrupt and distorting of truth men in leadership positions can become—all the while claiming they are the "good guys" and all those other ministers who question them and their motives are "rebels" "disidents" "divisive and sowing discord".

    As to the large organization–I tend to agree with you somewhat on that–I don't see it either.
    When the COG "woman" body is taken to safety, it does not say how many—but those who come out of the tribulation are a great multitude. The two wittnesses are the only ones I recall doing anything through the tribulation–other than those who are martyred or trying to escape persecutions and the mark of the beast. Besides, if the Church is taken to safety–who would there be left to do any great work? Iknow there are those who keep the commandments and the testamony–but they do not have the faith of Christ, as you see in Rev. 14. There is a difference.

    Anony Jon

  2. John, are you kidding me? A famine of the Word?

    Listen, I appreciate and acknowledge the work the CG's have done in their TV programs, literature, and awards and things like that. HWA caught some people's attention no doubt.

    But to say because of all the splits there's a famine of the Word??? A famine of the Word???

    The Gideons organization alone distributed 79.8 million copies of God's Word in 194 countries around the world last year. More than 700 million copies of God's holy Word have been distributed worldwide in the last 10 years and 1.6 billion copies since its founding in 1908. See http://www.gideons.org

    Wycliffe Bible Translators (founded in 1942) has worked hard to translate God's word into every language in the world. They have a vision to do that very thing by 2025. The vast majority of languages that do not have the Bible translated are very minor languages, but important, too. See http://www.wycliffe.org

    Just to name 2 works going on to place God's word. This kind of placement of God's WORD has never happened before.

    Myopia (noun; adj) – "a condition of the eye; lacking foresight or scope; 'a short view of the problem'; short-sighted; narrow-minded."

    Jesus holds the remedy for eye problems. He tells the church at Laodecia to anoint your eyes with eyesalve so that you may see, as He healed two men that were blind. I don't think the CG's are blind, just a severe case of myopia. Get the eyesalve, people.

  3. author@ptgbook.org

    In my opinion, no. I think it will be due to persecution.

    If the Church of God is split into a lot of small groups, and if there is public demand for the truth as these scriptures seem to indicate, then some of those groups will meet the demand.

  4. @Anonymous: No, I'm not kidding. It is a prophecy, and so I believe it. More than likely, people will turn to some amalgamation of religions where the church is an infallible entity, thus meaning that reading the word is not needed.

    With the true Church of God out of the way and people not reading their Bibles, they will be deceived into worshiping the Beast. I'm not sure what's so hard to understand about that.

  5. @Author: I dunno. We seem to have a habit of self-destructing. The smaller and weaker we are, the less we will be able to proclaim anything. If we are small, weak and persecuted, then even less so.

  6. @Anony Jon: I haven't had a chance to read the book yet.

    Personally, I believe the Place of Safety is geared towards children, the elderly, etc. That's just my opinion, not based on any Scripture. However, it is also my opinion that people who belong to a particular organization so that they can go to a Place of Safety are "save my own butt Christians" who are not in it for the right reasons.

  7. I was not talking about "organizations" going to safety. I am talking about Rev.12:14 and that woman is the COG–the Ekklasia(??) called out ones who are scattered today among many of these groups. (Jer.23-KJV) when those lukewarm of Laodicea are spewed out (seperated from the body) they sure won't be going unless they repent in time.
    The people with the mentality that you mentioned probably are not really in the Church either–beings it is a spiritual organism made up of true followers of Christ. And BTW–to #2 Anonymous–as John said –it is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled and it is a famine of hearing the true word–(Amos.8:11-12)–not a bunch of hyposthsies and falsehoods that cannot be proved by Scripture. The COG that teaches truth will be protected and during the great tribulation the world will be plagued with the teachings of the Harlot of Rev.17 while the mark of the beast will be forced on humanity once again. People can read the Bible and never know what it means–millions do every day.

    Anony Jon

  8. Anony Jon wrote: "I was not talking about 'organizations' going to safety."

    Granted, and I wasn't implying that you were. However, I have heard that … stuff … so often that I couldn't help but interject it. Sorry if it sounded like I was putting words in your mouth.

  9. Anony Jon: I acknowledge that the passage in Amos is "prophetic."

    I agree that hearing the word implies the Word of God is spoken. Paul says there's no profit to speaking unless one is speaking by revelation, knowledge, prophesying or teaching (see 1 Cor 14:6).

    Amos 8:12 however says that the people will "run to and fro seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it."

    If this passage is to be fulfilled in the future it's not about CG splits. God's word is growing and being placed worldwide almost exponentially, not due to anything the CG's are doing. When people seek God's word today, they can find it.

    But when you start from the myopic premise that you and a few splintering, bickering groups in the world who rarely share the love of Christ with anyone personally are the only ones God is working with, then you've got to take the verse and force it to fit what's happening in your own myopic situation.

    Listen, I spent 30+ years of my life immersed into and fully believing the myopic "we are the true followers of God" teaching. What did I base that on? Doctrine of an organization. When I was walking across AC campus at HWA's death, a question came to mind, "how will I know what is true now?" I settled at that point on the Sabbath and Holy Days – whoever teaches that, will be the true teachers of God.

    Well, which of the 300+ splinters do you follow? Splits, arguing, lack of humility, disorganization, each claiming to have the truth and be better than the other. Come follow "God's chosen Philadelphia church." Yeah, right. Philadelphia means brotherly love and that's certain not part of the CG's. Why can't you all see that?

    It was when Jesus showed up that my eyes were opened. He broke me and then put eye salve on my eyes showing me that while doctrine is important, it's not doctrine that saves me. Jesus saves, period. The most essential part of salvation is not the Sabbath or Holy Days, it's Jesus!
    He said He would never leave me or forsake me.
    He said what He starts He finishes.
    He said if I leave all the other sheep He will leave the 99 and come after me.
    He name is Author and Finisher of salvation. He said no one can pluck me out of His hand. He said He qualifies me.
    He said He is the Great I AM.
    He is the Good Shepherd.
    He is the WAY.
    He is the TRUTH.
    He is the LIFE.
    He is LORD.

    Not Protestant, not Catholic, not Buddhist, not Islamic, not xCG, not Armstrong, not Untied Church. It's Jesus, PERIOD. If you don't have that central, you don't have squat.

    Now, if you have a problem with myopia, who are you going to go find? Jesus came to heal the sick. He has the eye salve. When He reveals, it's the real deal.

  10. Anonymous wrote: "God's word is growing and being placed worldwide almost exponentially, not due to anything the CG's are doing. When people seek God's word today, they can find it."

    If they don't understand it, then it has little value, though. While I agree that not all of the Church of God (which is not an organization, but a spiritual body) has its roots in WCG, HWA was a force to be reckoned with by preaching the Gospel. Since his death, that power has been diminished by a lot of what you are pointing out.

    Some believe that persecution is what causes the power of the Church (capital 'C') to wane. I would argue that, perhaps, if we were doing what we were supposed to be doing, that not only would persecution would not even be necessary, but we would have the strength to better withstand it.

  11. Anonymous stated; "The most essential part of salvation is not the Sabbath or Holy Days, it's Jesus!"
    I am not disputing any Scripture that you have mentioned –however you have overlooked the most essential of all–John 6:44–where Christ himself said "no one can come to me, unless the FATHER draws him." Then if you read and believe that 1Cor.2:9-14 means what it says–you will begin to understand some truth and how the truth of Scripture is applied. Jesus is not what saves if He is not living and active in you through the Holy Spirit. His death has reconciled you to the Father but it has not saved you. you are ONLY being saved as Christ lives His life in you by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    No offense intended by any means–but you do not seem to grasp that reading the Bible is a long distance from understanding it. your statement–; "When I was walking across AC campus at HWA's death, a question came to mind, "how will I know what is true now?" I settled at that point on the Sabbath and Holy Days – whoever teaches that, will be the true teachers of God."–is very telling–it reveals more about you than perhaps even you understand about yourself.
    In Christian love,

    The editor

  12. Dear Editor: Thanks for your response (you too John). I understand the way "the editor" is describing salvation.

    I believe John 6:44 and 1 Cor 2:9-14. Essential Scriptures. I sincerely appreciate you pointing them out.

    You make some very crucial comments here when you say, "Jesus is not what saves if He is not living and active in you through the Holy Spirit. His death has reconciled you to the Father but it has not saved you. you are ONLY being saved as Christ lives His life in you by the power of the Holy Spirit."

    2 Cor 13:5 comes to mind.

    Folks, this is key. Editor is saying we are being saved and not saved yet. The Bible clearly states we are being saved. Jesus is working in those who are His. They must persevere, keep the faith, not give up. But that's not all.

    Let's look at some other confidence building Scriptures – confidence in Jesus Christ, not me.

    John 6:47 ""Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life."

    John 6:54 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

    John 5:24a "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life…" I stopped it there for emphasis. Present tense – "has"
    "…and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." – John 5:24b

    The book of Ephesians chapters 1-3 speak of our salvation as a "done deal." A lot of "past tense" Scriptures. Chapters 4-6 saying, God has saved you, now live like it.

    There are numerous other scriptures I want to go to (but I'm limited in space) that speak of salvation as past tense, no getting around it. The Greek is past tense – salvation is done and yet, not yet done.

    Here's what the Bible teaches – salvation is both a future reality and a present reality. If you don't believe the present reality, fine. CG's don't teach that, but like Ricky Ricardo used to tell Lucy, "you got a lotta es'plaining to do."

    How do you then explain the past tense of salvation? CG's brush over that because they do not understand the three parts (at least I never got it explained in their literature or at AC). Salvation is three parts:
    1) Justification – done; past; freed *from* sin
    2) Sanctification – doing; present; purifying; growing; becoming more like Christ; freeing from the *power* of sin.
    3) Glorification – will be done; future; will be freed from the *presence* of sin.

    Salvation is all 3. And all three are carried out by God's grace through Jesus Christ. There's not enough room here to go through this. If you're interested I encourage you to type the 3 words above into a search engine and prove it wrong. It's the only way I can see to reconcile the Bible's comments on salvation. It's like a puzzle that fits! It comes together beautifully. Verses open up through the power of the Holy Spirit's revelation.

    Now, does that mean that some people who think they're saved, aren't really saved? Absolutely! They say, "I'm saved. It's a done deal. I'm in. I walked the sawdust trail. I prayed the prayer. I went forward." Sad really.

    This is where editor's comments come in – if you say that, then LIVE IT by the power of the Spirit, Jesus living in you. REPENT & CHANGE!

    Finally, yes, my thoughts and comments were very telling about me and what I trusted.

    One question to ask yourself because some of you need to ask this question.

    If you faced Jesus right now at the beginning of the Kingdom and Jesus said why should I let you into my Kingdom? What would your answer be?

    Come on, be honest and sincere. What would it be? Why should you get into the Kingdom?

  13. Anonymous wrote: "Here's what the Bible teaches – salvation is both a future reality and a present reality. If you don't believe the present reality, fine. CG's don't teach that…"

    They don't?

    Didn't HWA (or, was it GTA?) used to say the correct answer to "Are you saved?" is "I was saved, I am now being saved, and I will be saved"?

  14. John: I would love to stand corrected.

    Titles of Literature, please (current or past).

  15. Correct John–(I don't recall who said it) but that is what the COG has taught, is teaching and will continue to teach until God says "it is enough"! let me expound if I may;
    I was saved from the death penalty when I accepted the sacrifice of Christ for my past sins.that will apply as long as I am repentant.
    I am being saved as I allow Jesus Christ to live His life over in me and lead me by the H.spirit.
    I will be completly saved from this human realm when I am born into the Family of God at the return of Jesus Christ and this body of flesh is changed to spirit.
    Hope this is helpful.

    The editor for http://www.mtcogsm.com

  16. "Actually, the Bible speaks of salvation in three ways — or as a process in three stages — if we wish to become theologically technical.

    "Jesus has already saved us (past tense) from the death penalty by His blood, paying the death penalty in our stead: '… according to His mercy He saved us … that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs …' (Titus 3:5, 7). This passage speaks of having been saved from the penalty of past sins — JUSTIFIED — having received God's Holy Spirit, thus becoming HEIRS of God. Notice (verse 7 above), it is speaking of JUSTIFICATION of past sins, and of being in the state of an HEIR — not an INHERITOR as yet.

    "Then, in II Corinthians 2:15, RSV, it speaks of those that "are being saved" present tense. The verb here should be translated, as in the RSV, 'are being saved,' and not 'are saved,' as in the King James version. The Moffatt, and other translations render this as 'are being saved.'

    "To make it plain, notice the whole sense of the passage: 'For we are unto God a sweet savour [fragrance] of Christ, in them that are saved [being saved], and in them that perish.' We Christians are like sweet perfume or fragrance to certain others. If to those that are (already — past tense) saved, then also to those who are, already (past tense) perished. Now those already perished are not smelling anything. This is speaking of LIVING people. If those that 'perish' are merely ON THE WAY toward perishing — but not yet perished — then, also those 'saved' are BEING saved — on the way to the final salvation.

    "Then MANY, MANY Scriptures speak of the salvation to come — of those who 'shall be' (future) saved. Most passages referring to the TIME of salvation refer to it as taking place at Christ's coming — as Revelation 12:10 and elsewhere."

    ~HWA, What Do You Mean The Unpardonable Sin?

  17. In stark contrast to "once saved always saved", HWA taught salvation and conversion was a process:

    "Now Paul here is not speaking of Adam's creation, six thousand years ago. He is speaking of Christians, NOW, being created-unto good works. We are His workmanship-the Creator is still creating. He is molding, fashioning4 changing us, transforming us to His own noble, righteous, holy, spiritual character. Yes, creating in us this perfect character.

    "Salvation, then, is a process!"

    ~HWA, Why Were You Born?

  18. John & Editor:

    I stand somewhat corrected.

    Actually I found a couple articles on various websites: philadelphia, UGCaia, eternal God, LCG, Plain Truth archives. It's interesting that I could not find on any of these sites a booklet explaining salvation per se. UCG had the better of the booklets, but things have changed (for the good).

    I remember a GN lead cover article from April 1983 that asked, "Are You Qualifying to Inherit the Universe?"

    It's questions and statements like this article makes that cause great concern. I reread that article this morning. It's at http://www.herbert-armstrong.org if you want to check it out.

    Remember the question I asked above, "If you faced Jesus right now at the beginning of the Kingdom and Jesus said why should I let you into my Kingdom? What would your answer be?"

    What did you answer? Think for a minute. Why are you getting in?

    Here's how the GN answers the question at the end of the article (direct quote):

    "In the ages to come, when they ask how you qualified to become a galaxy-ruling God, it will be enough – and more than enough – to turn to them and simply say: 'I served with Herbert W. Armstrong and God's people during the Philadelphia era of God's church on earth. I was on the team. I did whatever I could to help Christ's chosen apostle finish the great commission.'"

    Now folks, who is this guy trusting in? The entire article is like a "drink the Kool-Aid" kind of article. It's borderline blasphemous. Where is this guy's power? When he shows up to the Kingdom, what will he say to Jesus? Uh, I was in HWA's church.

    Amazing! Colossians clearly says, "giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." Col 1:12 So his quote is anti-scriptural and does injustice to the work of God's powerful GRACE.

    This guy's faith is in what he is doing, how he's qualifying, how he has overcome. His focus in on HIMSELF, HWA and WCG! What pride and arrogance to dismiss Jesus and trust his inheritance and salvation to "the work." Do you guys not see this? That's the messages you guys send – saved by works.

    That central message comes across loud and clear: keeping the commandments, keeping the Sabbaths, obeying, qualifying, etc. The message you send (whether it's true or not) is that you're trusting in your work, and not the work and power of Jesus Christ.

    I hope and pray somebody recognizes this huge mistake. It blew me away when I realized what I was doing to my Savior, His work and His grace.

  19. @Anonymous: That is an interesting quote, to say the least. However, if you've been around here for long, you know that I do not adhere to the philosophy that just because HWA said something that it is the end of the story. I'll have to check out that quote when I have time, though. At very least, I disagree with it as you quoted it.

  20. "Remember the question I asked above, "If you faced Jesus right now at the beginning of the Kingdom and Jesus said why should I let you into my Kingdom? What would your answer be?"

    What did you answer? Think for a minute. Why are you getting in?"

    For much the same reasons the advanced nations of this world have immigration and refugee policies that allow a person to enter their kingdoms. So too does His kingdom.

    Either it is possible to become a productive and law respecting person or not. To show by my daily life choices as it adds up through time (Philippians 3:12-14), that I make decisions under the law of Christ as a slave to God's law (1 Cor 9:21) to His kingdom today and thereby become a member of His nation or not. Either I love my neighbor or not of which is not God and His 7th day also my neighbor? (Gal 5:14)

    As Paul wrote, "Now what is sought in stewards is that one be found faithful. So for me, it is a minor matter that I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not acquitted because of this. The one who judges me is the Lord." (1 Cor 4:2-4)

    I try to follow what Paul tries to explain about the way to follow Christ, being near two thousand years and a dead language later. Not that those dead people who spoke that language in their daily lives understood Paul any better (2 Pe 3:16)

    But there are things that I do have against myself, but Paul also wrote in Philippians 1:6, " For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. because of 2 Tim 2:13, "​​​​​​If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself". As long as I am not trying to surreptitiously in my own heart to deny Him, " If we deny him, he will also deny us." (2 Tim 2:12

    So I strive against myself and other things (Ro 7:23, Eph 6:12)to show by my daily works the same inner faith of Christ (James 2:18) because of one of the numerous aspects about the gospel of Jesus Christ revealed to His servants.

    "Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us." (1 Jn 1:5-10)

    And when it comes to works, almost all Sabbatarians will tell people we are only rewarded responsiblities according to our individual work. However when people are seen keeping the such things as the 7th day Sabbath holy to a neighbor known as God even in this day, can it be that some of them are " For by grace they are saved through faith, and this is not from themselves, it is the gift of God."

  21. Just one more thing about Herbert Armstrong and his teachings. Perhaps it can become clearer about that man if a person were to contemplate the difference from a heavenly perspective.

    "I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is."

    No disrespect is meant but perhaps when it comes to how any man with his teachings is under public scruntiny, is it possible to draw some analogies between Mr. Armstrong and Forest Gump? Unless a person were to believe he saw through the glass without any obstruction.

    "At present we only see the baffling reflections in a mirror, but then it will be face to face; at present I am learning bit by bit, but then I shall understand, as all along I have myself been understood." (1 Cor 12:13)

    What I mean is Herbert Armstrong strived through the talents given to him to be a servant. His words can fall short of what he hoped for the 18 truths expressed by him to accomplish.

  22. @Norbert: I understand where you are coming from, but I think there is much shorter and perhaps better answer to the question, "If you faced Jesus right now at the beginning of the Kingdom and Jesus said why should I let you into my Kingdom?"

    How about: "I am covered by the sacrifice of Your blood for me, because I am an unprofitable servant. I have done that which was my duty to do."

    Cf Lk 17:10

  23. I heard a minister claim a few weeks ago the "famine of the word" already has arrived — because so many mainstream churches (especially megachurches) have gone to "lifestyle" messages instead of expounding the Bible.

    But here's the strange thing: the minister who said that was Chuck Swindoll — one of the most familiar preachers on religious radio.

  24. The famine of the word will not take place until autumn of 2013 when the woman of Rev 12 that has now delivered the true word that has been hidden is taken to a place of safety because Satan will then be cast down to the earth. See the true word now going to the world as a witness at the heel of time. Satan's lies are now exposed http://thegoodtale.wordpress.com
    God has all power, Satan has none. None will perish and is proven on this blog to the world from the wilderness (cyberspace). Read all 30 posts before you make your judgment.

  25. O-boy Val! another date setting trend starting up!! just what we need. when will people learn that God is in control of "when" and "whatever" will happen!!?? People just crawl out of the woodwork and start saying things they have no insight into nor any control over—then the gullibles read it and panic–oh no! what-am i gonna do!!—wringing the hands and stuff!!
    Hope you don't start another brainwashing session with people rushing off to Guyuanna by 2013.—ooops!~ wait a minute—this can't happen cause the world is ending in 2012–what am I thinking??