The Church (Pt.2)

 

Greetings once again my friends! This subject of the church is intriguing to many today it seems, seeing it from ideas of ministers and members and from their own perspective. It is the same for me and my history of nearly 45 years, so I have decided to do this follow-up to the previous article, as a part two. It is perhaps in a backwards order than most would put it, but part one is an overall view of the spiritual organism and was meant to be more brief. This part two, still brief and from my own perspective, will fill in a few other details that were not in the first article—but go along with it. It pertains to the true Church of God and where it is today, again from my perspective and what I have learned in connection with Scripture. It should be a sure thing that the true COG is in the last era of Laodicea; a very scattered state as this era winds down to the return of Christ. However, there are still some pockets of people stuck in the past who think they are exclusively all Philadelphians; an era long since passed. Think about this as you read on through this article, because all down through time to and including us today, “the Church” has always been only one body, a spiritual organism of called out ones made up of collective members as it moves through time. (Eph.4:1-7)

 

Thinking back to part one for some of its details and to get us started in this part two; the true church had lost its first love toward the latter end of the first era, (Perhaps because of deceptions and negligence of the leaders) as is recorded in Rev.2:4. That will take us on past the Pentecost of 31 A.D., the beginning of the NT church of God, the time of the first apostles, Paul and Barnabas and all of their activities.  However, it becomes necessary for us to reflect on what the true Church was focused on up to that time, as being True Christians. The true COG at that time and from the beginning was followers of Christ and His examples—keeping the commandments and learning from Christ — distancing themselves from the world, after receiving the Holy Spirit, and from any pagan doctrines and other ideas. There were some already gathering as the church congregations that were getting off into their own ideas, being apart from what Scriptures teach—but were thinking of themselves as still being Christians. They were already being deceived (If they ever genuinely repented to start with) and adding in some new teachings not sanctioned by Christ and the apostles, as JUDE warned about! Many were beginning to get away from the teachings and directions of Christ and were considered as an anti-christ by many, especially the apostle John. John, who was still alive before the turn of the century, said this about them in; 1 John 2:18-19;

 

“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out (of the church congregations) that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” (NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted) The NIV has this for the last part; “but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

 

They were not in the true COG; not true Christians, (according to John and the Scriptures) even though they still claimed to be! This was well passed the time frame of Philip’s preaching the gospel in Acts 8 and Simeon being condemned by Peter for wanting to buy the Holy Spirit, or the incident in Acts 13:6-12. These people were considered anti-christs, as well as many others, by the time of Johns writing 1John 2. These things were going on and leading up to the statement made in Rev.2:4. Let us take a closer look at Paul’s statement that reveal this as well; 2 Thess. 2:1-3

“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.”

Many who have studied into this also consider this could have been the preliminary teaching or the heresy that started the movement to gain the universal church more power over the people, but that may be a bit of speculation, along with some truth. However, Paul also dealt with the falling away that was to come, the man of sin doctrine that has a part still to come, as you read on in that context, up to V.11. (Some of this fits right into what is prophesied in the book of Revelation and elsewhere, which I will not get into in detail.)

 

From there, the true Church was also being persecuted by others who were also claiming to be Christians, as what was to become the Catholic church was then in the stages of developing. That brings us into the time frame of the last 6 letters to the churches in Rev.2&3. What lead into the Catholic church, persecuted the true Church at various times, through 1260 years, from 325 to 1585 as was prophesied, (Rev.12:6) until the final ending of the protestant reformation. I will skip to the 5th era, Sardis and on to the time frame of HWA coming on the scene at the closing of the era, in the last of the 1920 & early 30’s. Rev 3:1

 

"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,

'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.”

This was the state that HWA quickly found the majority of COG people in, when God called him into it. Of course that organization, being now split as it did right after HWA came along, is still with us today and still lacking much of the knowledge revealed to HWA, through the Holy Spirit and from Scripture. (See Laodicea for a short view on these church letters. I recommend that you also read HWA’s autobiography, if you have not already.)

 

HWA made some mistakes in his many years of service, as he also was still learning. Most of us led by the HOLY SPIRIT have figured that out for ourselves, over the years and in our own studies, but God did use him to help so many get in line with much of the truth that had previously been lost. HWA was restoring much lost truth as well as preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. This brings us up to the 1980’s and right after the receivership to the WCG. Jo Tkach Sr. was put over the ministry by Mr. H. Armstrong and some things began to subtle change. HWA then appointed Jo Tkach as pastor general of the WCG and died on January 16th of 1986. Far more subtle changes became noticeable quickly, by the few that were alert! Change was certainly in the air at that time as Laodicea and lukewarm-ness was starting to take hold of the majority. By the end of 1990, I and many others were noticing the “church” was getting off track in many areas.  Some were beginning to look for a place that indicated we could go—but there did not seem to be one. The true COG was beginning to scatter once again. (See the earlier article SIGNS for another view of things.)

 

Some had already left at this point, but were eager to follow a man or men that did not seem to be doing the work of God, as HWA was blessed for doing for nearly 6 decades. (There were far too many that were following a man in HWA as well, and even he understood that.) For some reason, the thinking by several was that the work of preaching the Gospel was over—yet Christ had not returned and the era of Laodicea was only starting. Where was it all going to go from here, was in the minds of many? (HWA was of the mindset that Christ would return before the 20th century was over, which had effected the majority to also think that way.) The Global COG started up and Roderick Meredith immediately began to preach the same Gospel that HWA had been preaching. It was not long before WCG stopped doing a Gospel program altogether. It was clear to many that the Church of God had once again moved on. Mr. Meredith had much to say about his perspective of what had been going on and why he left WCG. Apostasy from truth was already brewing beneath the surface but the majority of ministers did not like Roderick Meredith and did not consent to being a part of his efforts to continue doing the work! Myself and many others however, began to see a place was being provided for us to go and still hold to the truth we had been given! (Rev.3:11) But once again, everything was not exactly as it should be and things steadily worsened. Rogue ministers were entering various organizations but subtly, with their own ideas and ways of doing things. This happened in Global as well. Many more groups began to form and a wider variety was being taught; different governments were being chosen and accepted as okay. This, along with voting was now okay by many who had become “Leaders” instead of helpers and supporters of getting the Gospel out to the world. (As was stated before, many did not even attempt to preach the Gospel in those years) By the year 2000, UCG had formed and already split, Global split also about the same time and Rod Meredith had begun LCG, and many other independent groups were forming—all calling themselves the COG—but were they all “The Church” –that is, one body and in unity; focused on doing the work and becoming the elect? As I have stated before, the true COG was the converted people and now being scattered throughout all these places of meeting, but many were confused on many things. Different things were being taught by various organizations and that goes on today. There are many ideas that do not actually come from Scripture—but many do not seem to mind—if it is a “good sermon”!

 

That brings us back to now and what was being brought to the forefront and in the first article. This is just some of my personal experiences and learning from various source, including some in the ministry; what I have learned about “The Church” during this time. (Editor added: Of course we need to be in a COG organization that is trying to stick as closely to the Bible and its teaching as possible—not off into the leaderships  own ideas about some things.)

Now let me cover a little more (Very quickly) of what some of the mind of the true COG (at least, in my opinion) is mostly set on, before I close this. Going back now to Scripture and what Christ said in Matt.6:33. Do you remember what that says and the implications of it? It is for all Christ’s disciples and the true Christian will have this mindset, as it is recorded from the American Standard Version; Matt 6:33 “But seek ye first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things (other things He talked about previously) shall be added unto you.” (ASV)  Are you in the true COG? Are you being led by the Holy Spirit of God? Have you moved on from being a called out one? This should be one of the uppermost thoughts in the minds of the members of the true COG, but I hear this less and less as time moves forward. Along with that, a true Christians focus should still be on getting the work of God done—to preach the Gospel to the world with zeal, (Matt.24:14, Mark 13:10 & Rev.3:19) and work out their own salvation. Christ told us to be in unity and love one another as HE loved us and gave himself for us! (John 13:34-35) Are we really doing that by separating ourselves from other brethren because they are in another organization? Where is your loyalty? Is it to God and His way or to some organization of man and what he says? The focus should be on serving God and not just being in a church organization, while being led by the Holy Spirit and overcoming—to completely reject Satan and everything that he uses to distract us from the way of Christ and what the Bible really says. There is a lot of subtlety, compromise and lukewarm-ness to contend with, it is everywhere, which makes those of the true COG very alert to their own surroundings and what they are hearing. The elect is what we are to become from being in the church, and they are the ones to be gathered together with Christ when He returns, ACCORDING TO His own Words! (Matt.24:31, Mark 13:27)

Rev.17:14, last part & ch.19:7 show the first fruits/the elect will become the bride of Christ, meeting Him in the air and making themselves ready now. We must BE the true CHURCH that becomes the elect and holds fast to truth to the end. (Matt.24:13) That is the goal of the called and chosen ones who also remain faithful, crying out to God to help them continue to grow and overcome! Is that what YOU are working on in your life and your church organization?

 

                                                                                                           (The editor of TCOGMSO.COM)

 

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