“Elijah fed by ravens” by Mikael Toppelius, 1775
Some words seem to bring up controversy no matter what. I’m all for having a passion and a zeal about God’s business, but sometimes we attach our emotions to the wrong things.
Some of you will likely take exception when I say that I don’t believe HWA was the Elijah to Come that Jesus prophesied of. That’s OK. If you feel strongly that he was the Elijah to Come, then I doubt that there is much I can say or write about that will change your mind. I will remind you, however, that my baptism was in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19), not in the name of HWA or Elijah. If your baptism required someone else’s name, then might I suggest you search the Scriptures for precedents in doing so and ponder whether or not it was legitimate.
On 16 January, HWA will have been dead 25 years. Seems fairly unlikely that such a gap of time would come between the life of the End Time Elijah and the return of Christ. Joshua was appointed while Moses was alive. Elisha was anointed while Elijah was alive. Jesus started His ministry when John was still preaching.
Setting that to the side for a moment, does it make a difference whether or not HWA fulfilled the role of Elijah as to our day-to-day mission? Should that be what guides us or the words of Christ?
You see, some claim that Elijah already came, and so we now don’t have to preach anything. Not only is that about as un-Elijah like as I can think of, but it is downright wrong. Jesus said He would be with us up to the very end (Mt 28:20), which is right after He commanded the disciples to make more disciples in “all nations” (v 19). This aligns quite well with Mt 24:14, which states that the Gospel had to be preached “in all the world” at the end.
We need to get back to doing what we are supposed to be doing. We need to preach a message of repentance. We need to preach a message about forgiveness of sins once we submit to Jesus. We need to preach a message of a much better world to come. We need to give people hope that this world is not all that there is.
The prophets were not afraid of telling entire nations of their sins. They were unafraid of preaching about a God Who takes an interest in human affairs. They were unafraid of warning people of God’s judgment. Unlike Jonah, most preached their message in the hopes of repentance so that God would turn away His wrath and show mercy.
I believe in an Elijah to Come, but Elijah was only one prophet. There were many prophets before, during and after his time. They all had a work to do. We need to make sure we are part of God’s work.
If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, if our standing before God is as it should be, if we are daily studying, praying and begging God for strength and for mercy, then we will recognize the Elijah to Come when it is time. If we become complacent and lazy, however, chances are we will not. Instead, we may even reject him just as the Pharisees rejected Jesus because He did not conform to their ideas of what Messiah should be.
More importantly, though, are we looking forward to Jesus’ return rather than another man to lead us?
John: No comment to the Elijah post, but I wanted to note that a few COG sites are reminding their members to be fasting in the upcoming weeks. I think it very important to remember during this time of fasting and prayer Isaiah 58 – the Biblical fasting chapter.
The parallel with recent CG events is staggering.
Much of that chapter calls God's people, who seem to be fascinated with "ordinances of justice," "righteousness," fasting for strife and debate, not treating their employees appropriately, putting forth the finger (i.e. pointing the finger v. 9), speaking wickedness, etc. to repent and seek what is on God's heart.
He promises glory of one's light to shine forth, offers much blessing, including healing, His guidance, strengthening and protection and a "repairer of the old waste places" – perhaps some may see a reference to healing the splits here.
He lists a number of true righteous acts in that chapter He expects to see of His children and His people, but will His people listen or just fast hoping that God will come to their side of the arugment?
Members of COGWA may or may not know about the fasts being declared in UCG and LCG both this month. Of course, there is no rule against COGWA members fasting twice in a month if they so decide. 🙂
This might be the first time that 3 large church groups have fasted in the same month like this (other than Day of Atonement, of course). OTOH, the one true spiritual Church of God sorely needs it.
On 16 January, HWA will have been dead 25 years. Seems fairly unlikely that such a gap of time would come between the life of the End Time Elijah and the return of Christ.
Well, rightly or wrongly, HWA did teach that he was the one who had been prophesied to come in the spirit and power of Elijah and "restore all things." HWA did put together a collection of beliefs that you won't find anywhere else. Most other churches would be lucky to have even one of the correct teachings that the WCG had.
Sadly, some things in the WCG were questionable, such as the wrong date setting, the anti-higher education teachings, and the extreme anti-doctor stuff. It is too bad about the harm that such things have done to people.
Still, the understanding in the WCG under HWA was that a Laodicean era would come, and HWA even warned that those of the Philadelphia era were in danger of becoming also those of the Laodicean era.
The division, confusion, heresy, and outright evil behavior on the COG scene today looks more like what one would expect from a Laodicean era. Even the idea of doing some great Elijah work is an idea that people got from HWA and probably would not even have thought about if HWA had not told them of such things. Even after being taught by HWA, and called together to work as a team by HWA, they are now all split up and falling for all sorts of other ideas.
Most people now reject the idea that HWA did much, and think that they themselves can do something much greater. This remains to be seen, and time will tell eventually. So far, however, nobody is matching what HWA accomplished. They are not even coming close.
On 16 January, HWA will have been dead 25 years. Seems fairly unlikely that such a gap of time would come between the life of the End Time Elijah and the return of Christ.
Not necessarily. HWA's Philadelphia era got about 52 years. Some eras got hundreds of years. Should the Laodicean era get only 3.5 years?
Consider also that HWA did what he did over a period of about 52 years. He built the WCG up to an attendance of about 150,000 people all over the earth. HWA has now been dead for 25 years. In those 25 years, who has done anything of note?
The UCG has been around for about 15 years, and had (emphasis on had, as in no longer has) about 20,000 people in attendance. These were basically all former WCG people. So, apart from what HWA built, it seems that almost nobody has done anything.
Many who were taught by HWA now reject him because he was not perfect, and think that they are better than HWA and can do a much greater work than he did. The sad truth appears to be that they are actually just "evil men and seducers" growing worse and worse all the time. The FACT of all the splintering shows clearly that something is wrong.
Based on the people I have seen in the various splinter groups, high and low, I don't know where they get the idea from that God is going to bless their evil behavior. It seems so much more likely that Jesus would counsel them to "buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see."
Anonymous said a mouthful;"So far, however, nobody is matching what HWA accomplished. They are not even coming close."
Does that however, annulify that there may be another to come, before the two witnesses? (that would make seven, you know) Is he on the scene now? would the majority recognize him if he was? think about that before you respond,
Did HWA come in the spirit of Elijah? I think a case can be made for that. He did do quite an extraordinary work, and He brought together many pieces of truth in a way that had not been done in a long time.
But, was he the Elijah to Come? I'm not really convinced of that. However, for those who are, where does the Bible say that Elijah must come from the "Philadelphian Era"?
The fascination and bragging by some about being part of the Philadelphian era of the church, while negatively rejecting the Laodicean era is remarkable.
Philadelphia means brotherly love, yet those in CG's claiming that brotherly love often critically judge, split, berate or at least look down upon their fellow "brothers" in Laodicea. This should say something in itself.
Honestly, I prefer the reward of Laodicea – to sit with Jesus Christ on His throne!!! Are you kidding? Wow! And where will the Philadelphians be? In the temple to go out no more with a new name written on them. Any position in the Kingdom is a great one, but to sit with Jesus? Wow!!! Who could deserve that???
He calls Laodicea to a relationship with Him – described by "buying from Him", being "healed by Him", being "clothed" with His righteousness and "dining" with Him. Wow! To be given riches, to be healed, to be clothed and eat with Jesus? That is amazing! What a blessing!!!
Sort of sounds like these people were at one time naked, poor, sick and not deserving the presence of a King. But Jesus became everything to them – sort of like when I was dating the young woman who I eventually married. She was everthing. When you look at Laodicea positively instead of negatively, then there are incredible undeserved blessings.
Anonymous wrote: "The fascination and bragging by some about being part of the Philadelphian era of the church, while negatively rejecting the Laodicean era is remarkable."
It's somewhat ironic as well. Almost every generation had someone who believed in church eras and were persuaded that they were living in the Laodicean era. They wrote extensive proofs that the crass materialism of their age was the sign of the time of the end.
Because they wanted to see the return of Jesus! They wanted it so badly that they believed it would happen in their lifetime, but in order for that to be true according to their theology, it had to be the era of Laodicea.
Something to think about.
Honestly, I prefer the reward of Laodicea
"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:…"
"YOU say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are WRETCHED, PITIFUL, POOR, BLIND and NAKED. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the FIRE…"
"Those whom I love I REBUKE and DISCIPLINE. So be earnest and REPENT." (From Revelation 3:14-22, NIV)
The right to sit with Jesus on His throne would be given only "To him who OVERCOMES…" (verse 21).
In the WCG under HWA it was understood that the "reward" of the Laodiceans for their behavior was that they would have to go into a "Great Tribulation." Possibly half of them will not wake up and repent even then and will lose their lives for all eternity!!!
Notice that the negative things said about Laodicea were said by Jesus Himself and recorded in the Bible itself. It was not HWA who made this up.
HWA had warned that those of the Philadelphian era were in danger of becoming also those of the Laodicean era. That actually does appear to have happened now, as there seem to be almost no new people coming in. The splinter groups today are basically just playing around with maybe one-fifth of the people who were contacted and taught by HWA and in the WCG at its peak. Whenever a totally new person does come along it seems to be a very rare and newsworthy event that gets trumpeted all over to try to show that the splinters are doing a great work too.
Having been around a while, I can honestly report that the behavior problems in the COG scene today are severe and widespread. The very fact of all the splintering shows that there is a serious problem. This is certainly not what I had ever wanted or expected to find, but it is the reality today. Prophecy IS coming to pass.
Anonymous wrote: "In the WCG under HWA it was understood that the 'reward' of the Laodiceans for their behavior was that they would have to go into a 'Great Tribulation.' Possibly half of them will not wake up and repent even then and will lose their lives for all eternity!!!"
One of the problems that I have with the "era" theory is that it takes a lot of twisting. What you are saying is that a lot of people will go through the Great Tribulation because they were born/baptized/converted in the wrong era.
And what of the Place of Safety? Which era does that occur in? That's right. It's the Laodicean era, if you believe in eras.
I think people are fooling themselves with the notion of a "Philadelphian remnant" and such. The more I look around, the more I believe the Philadelphians don't go through the Great Tribulation because they already are asleep and awaiting their reward.
Rather, it is time to look in the mirror and see just how naked, wretched and poor we all really are. This "Philadelphian remnant" rubbish is just a lot of self-righteousness and pride.
What you are saying is that a lot of people will go through the Great Tribulation because they were born/baptized/converted in the wrong era.
The Laodiceans will "Fry in the Trib." (as one teen abbreviated it) because of their deficient character. It is always a bad time to be bad.
As for being born at a bad time, you could say that happened to the Jews in Jerusalem when it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. You could also say that it was a bad time to be born for those who got caught up in the concentration camps in World War II. Bad times and bad things do happen. These bad times and bad things are a result of bad behavior. That is precisely why the WCG under HWA proclaimed the Ezekiel Warning Message, telling the USA and Britain to repent so they won't have to be destroyed and taken captive.
That is also why Jesus told people to watch and pray that they may be counted worthy to escape all the bad things that are going to come to pass. HWA warned about a coming Laodicean era. So, of course, people now simply reject HWA's church eras theory, rather than reforming their behavior so they can escape the coming punishment.
I'm reminded of another title put on Herbert Armstrong, which no one seems to bring up anymore. Gerald Waterhouse also liked to call him the "modern-day Moses."
In a 1986 Spokesman Club meeting I attended, a man stood up during TableTopics and said if Joseph Tkach Sr. was the "modern-day Joshua" (as Mr. Waterhouse dared to say in a message sent to all congregations), then WCG might be only 3 1/2 years away from the promised land.
So much for making that parallel….
To Anonymous 11:10 PM:
I'm looking at Laodicea from an overall, in-the-end perspective, which is a very positive one. No doubt they have to go through some very serious, negative things (whether that is Great Tribulation is speculative, as John mentions).
I am reminded that discipline from the receiver's perspective is negative. But the writer of Hebrews tells us not to despise the chastening, rebuke and scourging that every son of God receives. This yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness, and God does it out of love.
Peter speaks of the "fiery trial" to be endured with joy because the outcome is positive. Let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good.
The One carrying out the discipline is doing it for our good because He loves us – that's my belief based on Scripture. I believe discipline is not threatening and punitive because of very bad behavior. Rather bad behavior results in warning and correction. Jesus never led the disciples in a threatening, punitive "power controlled manner. To do so would not have been very meek.
Discipline should be for positive change. It should not be motivated from a "power trip" to force people. Otherwise the fruit is rebellion because there is little or no relationship.
Thankfully we have a relationship with God as sons and Godly, loving discipline (even scourging) proves that according to Heb 12. Jesus and the Holy Spirit leads, not forces.
I tend to believe and view the "Church" at Laodecians as Jesus's Church. He loves the Church, died and gave Himself for it. So any discipline and correction would be motivated out of that love and for the Church's good – for all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
If the Church is in as bad of shape as you describe it – behavior problems being severe and widespread, ineffective, no growth then I would challenge the assumption that the church you are describing is the "true" Church. The Bible tends to describe that kind of behavior as non-Christian. The fruit is missing altogether.
The "true" Church is out there. It is not visible in an organization, but visible individually and by their fruit and amazing works. If you can't see it, then ask Jesus for some eye salve. He loves you, will heal your blindness and will show you.
I wrote, "I'm looking at Laodicea from an overall, in-the-end perspective, which is a very positive one."
I mean the end is a positive one, not that my perspective is a very positive one. It hope is very positive, but that may or may not be the case.
Anonymous wrote: "So, of course, people now simply reject HWA's church eras theory, rather than reforming their behavior so they can escape the coming punishment."
I've honestly not seen a single instance of that. However, I have seen a lot of people claiming to be the "Philadelphian remnant" without any proof (booklets, telecasts, radio programs do not make you Philadelphian). I have seen many of these groups use that as an excuse to look down upon other groups, showing their true Laodicean spirit: pride, arrogance and judgmentalism. My cat has more brotherly love than some of these groups.
John, I was skeptical of the eras up until I read Mystery of the Ages and had it laid out somewhat effectively there. I'm more inclined to believe in eras myself. (Such as the 10 years of intense persecution and the comment of 10 days for Smyrna, and the possibility of Ellen White being the Jezebel mentioned in Thyatira).
To that extent, I think people forget that eras are eras. An era is a period of time. It's not a group of people (Unless you want to count it like a generation, i.e. "I'm from Gen X" or "I was born in era y"). The group of people in that era have an overwhelming attitude present in the letter. Not everyone, but overwhelmingly so. But each letter is a warning about that mindset and a call to wake up. And we're all supposed to learn from the problems of all the eras anyway.
In other words, people need to stop looking at it as being shameful to be in the "Laodecian" era and remember that doesn't have an impact on one's personal salvation. God still loves the people there as much as the other eras, and as far as I'm aware, they are offered the same reward as everyone else–they're still saved. They just have their own focus problems now, by and large.
Although, all that said, I also believe that they have serious end time implications. The letters all talk with an end-time focus as if those churches will exist at the end itself. So I think the letters have that meaning as well (beginning to wonder if they can't apply to different church orgs/groups of orgs now).
And regarding a comment you made about Philadeplhian remnant, I believe that to be the case (them all being dead). The remnant theory used a lot stretching to come up with. But the funny thing about Philadelphia is God makes a promise that people gloss over.
"Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."
He promises to -keep them from the hour-. He doesn't say I will protect you during the hour, or keep you safe during it, or even keep you during the hour. He says that He will keep them -from- the hour. Which to me implies that Philadelphia (or those that were a part of the Philadelphian era and work and are still with us this day) will not be here when the trial comes. Maybe that's the place of safety… maybe it's not. They are getting older and dying at a faster rate these days.
It's all very interesting when it gets down to it. But in the end, none of those details matter. We'd all be best following the advice each letter closes with.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the -churches-.”’
IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION: Understand that it IS possible to accept HWA's Elijah teachings and his Church Eras teachings ***WITHOUT*** accepting false frauds like Gerald Flurry and his PCG, which have no true love at all, only lust and sin. Just in case anyone thought I was supporting such evil groups, let me be perfectly clear that the PCG is a satanic fraud. It is not even a true COG as it is led by a blaspheming false prophet who is out to destroy former WCG members.
Many such impostors have come around claiming to be carrying on in HWA's footsteps, yet they make truly massive doctrinal changes (which they call "new revelation") and do nothing but evil to everyone (and they call it "love"). The fact that many people claim to be HWA's successor does not make it so. The fact that they claim to be the Philadelphian remnant does not make it so. The fact that they try to make HWA and his teachings appear to be bad by their own bad behavior does not make it so. Again, it is possible to believe HWA's teachings ***WITHOUT*** believing all the false prophets, false apostles, false witnesses, etc. who have appeared. Though they claim a good position and name for themselves, yet are they just part of the end-time problem.
The problem in this "Elijah" timing is a day to God is a thousand years to men.
It is really funny that some people label themselves favourably and label others, unsavoury. When that right solely belongs to God. We can only try our best to follow God and His instructions to the best of our ability and with the help of the holy spirit and wait for God to label each one of us.
John wrote; "But, was he the Elijah to Come? I'm not really convinced of that. However, for those who are, where does the Bible say that Elijah must come from the "Philadelphian Era"?"
Hello John–the Bible does not specifically say that, but there are some indications, if you are open minded enough to reflect on them. I have posted an audio TRIBUTE to HWA today at http://www.mtcogsm.com if you care to give a listen. it might give you something to reflect on dealing with this subject and the spirit of Elijah.
I think that Mr. Armstrong probably was the Elijah to come to restore all things. But I also think it is not that particularly important that we know who the Elijah to come is. God knows who he is, and God will make sure he does the work God wants him to do. And if Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah to come to restore doctrinal truths, it is noteworthy that even he did not know he was the Elijah to come while he was in the process of restoring those truths, which started with the restoration of the knowledge of the holy days from around 1934 on. In the New Testament, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ never raised the subject except that they answered questions about it, questions usually originating from things said by the scribes and Pharisees. There is nothing in the Bible that says that it is important that we know.