Well greetings friends. This is Herbert W Armstrong with the good news of the World Tomorrow. My friends, once again let me ask, "Where is the true Church that Jesus Christ did build?"
We look about us and we see churches on a great many street corners today. Our land is literally dotted with churches — many, many different denominations. Now there must be a right and a true Church. Which one is the right one?
Jesus Christ said, "I will build my Church" (Matthew 16:18). And He did build it; He built His Church. You read of it in the book of Acts in the New Testament. And there you read of only one Church. You don't read of a lot of different denominations; you don't find any of them there. But there is one Church.
Now did that one Church become divided? Or did that one Church become perverted — and then, about five hundred years ago, get reformed in a division of a lot of different kinds of denominations that have reformed it and straightened it all up — although each one is different and each one says it has the truth and all the others are wrong? And no two of them seem to agree very far.
Or did the church grow into great and politically powerful organizations — many different denominations and organizations — all of them the churches of Christ; did Christ become divided — taking part in the politics of this world, taking part in this world's affairs, trying to clean up this world and make it a better world, of course? Is that the Church that Jesus founded?
Go back and look at the Church as it was as it started out. You find it in the book of Acts. Did they try to reform Caesar's government for him? Did they get into Caesar's government and try to show him what was wrong and to make it a better world? Or did they just try to pull people out of the world and make them better individuals without trying to make the world itself better?
And what is this world, anyhow? It's the pattern: it is the system of society in its various organized branches when you consider what is the world. If you want to make the world a better world, you have to know what is the world.
What Is the True Church? Now the true Church of God, if you want to find what it is, it is made up, or composed of those individuals who have been begotten of God and who are now still led by the Holy Spirit of God in the way that the Holy Spirit would lead them. And they are filled with the Spirit of God — those who believe the faith once delivered.
And by that I don't mean something that is now old-fashioned, but which was new-fangled a hundred and fifty or two hundred years ago. I don't mean the so-called old-fashioned gospel that was an absolutely new thing about two, or three, or four hundred years ago. I mean the faith once delivered; I mean the faith that the early Church really had and held to; I mean the faith that was taught by the apostle Paul to the churches that were called — supposed to be Gentile churches. Well they were not Gentile churches. But they were made up of those who had formerly been Gentiles and had been Gentile-born.
The true Church of God is the Church of those individuals who believe the doctrines and the teaching of Jesus Christ and that were believed by those churches raised up by the apostle Paul. They are those individuals who are following the example of Jesus, the example of the true Church as it was at Jerusalem and all of the others and the churches that were raised up by the apostle Paul. In other words: the true Church, if you find it, will be exactly the same, my friends, as the Church was then.
Now you look about you today, and in the churches that you find today, they no longer practice the same kind of customs that they did in Jesus' day. For instance in those days — even the Gentile churches with the apostle Paul — they met on the day that is now called Saturday, not on the day that is Sunday. And it was a great long time after that, that the churches began to have their meetings on Sunday.
They observed the Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, the Day of Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. You don't find any churches doing those things today. Why they'd laugh at you. They'd say, "Why, don't you know that's Jewish?"
They didn't observe any Christmas or any New Year's celebration or acknowledge any New Year's like they have today. They didn't celebrate any Easter; they didn't have any Lent; they didn't have any Holy Week; they didn't have any Good Friday in any of those churches that Jesus built. The Church that Jesus built never knew anything about those things whatsoever.
Now where do you get those things? Where do you get this Lenten season; where do you get the Holy Week and Good Friday? You don't get it out of the Bible. I challenge you to find where it's in the Bible. Send it to me and I'll preach it to this worldwide audience. Find it in your Bible. Where is your authority for those things?
Now I know that those who are in these things are well-meaning and they're very sincere and they only mean good and they've only done the thing that seemed right to a man and it seemed to them that it was good and it was right. I guess they never read in the Bible that "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man [but], the ends thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25), and that the Bible says, "Lean not to your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5), and that the way to find Christ and the way to find God is to, "Forsake your thoughts and your ways." (Isaiah 55:6 paraphrased)
And your thoughts and your ways are the ways that seem right to you — not wrong, but right! And perhaps they never read in the Bible that the prophecy was that the Church would become deceived and all this world would become deceived by the false doctrines of paganism. And that's exactly what has happened.
Now, my friends, in the Bible is the prophecy of that true Church — and also the prophecy of an apostate church. I've gone into, in the past few broadcasts, the prophecy of the apostate church, or churches, because it's a divided church divided into all kinds of sects and denominations. That church is called by a very ugly name. The whole thing is called, 'Babylon,' which means, 'confusion' — 'Babylon the Great.'
But it's a great church and who is the mother of a lot of smaller churches. And the smaller ones, or the others, are called, 'harlots.' And the harlotry, or the adultery, which this church committed, was by having a relationship with the civil rulers of this world and with this world's governments, with this world's politics, with this world's business and commerce, with this world's society — in fact with this world! Instead of coming out of the world and being separate as you find you're commanded to do in the New Testament, they have become part-and-parcel of this world and they are merely the churches OF the world and they are this world's religion.
Now the god of this world is Satan the devil (II Corinthians 4:4). And these churches worship and the people in them have been taught to worship their god. And the god they worship is the god who believes doctrines, and upholds doctrines diametrically opposite of those of the true God and those of the Bible — the doctrines that were upheld by Satan the devil! And they follow the practices, not of Jesus Christ and of the customs of the Bible and of Christ and the early Church, but those — the very ways of the devil himself.
Now they just don't realize that, but if you go back and read what made a devil out of Lucifer, you find that they're doing the same things today and they don't realize it. They have been deceived!
Prophesied History of the True Church But in the twelfth chapter of Revelation is the prophecy foretelling the history, long in advance, of the true Church of God — God's Church of which Jesus Christ is the Living Head, the Church that was "built on the foundation of [the] apostles and the prophets [yes the prophets as well as the apostles] Jesus Christ himself, being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20). And that is in the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation.
Now let's go through that; let's see what was prophesied of the true Church of God. Open your Bible — the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation.
"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun." (Revelation 12:1)
Now we know that the book of Revelation is very largely symbolical. We know that Jesus Christ is the Revelator. And we know that Jesus is the author of the Bible. And in many places Jesus, Himself, revealed the meaning of the seals and of the various symbols that are given there — and in that particular case in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew. But we find that it isn't all revealed in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew — some in other places. You turn to the very first chapter of the book of Revelation and, let me see, you find here...
"I turned to see the voice that spake with me [the very first chapter and the twelfth verse] and being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle [and so on. Now here were the seven candlesticks — seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks one like the Son of man]. And he had in his right hand [this is verse sixteen. This is what I was trying to come to, he had in his right hand] seven stars, and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword." (Revelation 1:12-13,16)
Now that's all symbolical. Well what are the symbols? Well one man says, "Well I think it means this." Another man says, "No, I think you're wrong. I think it means so-and-so." And everybody has an idea of what it means. But as long as we lean to our own understanding we are wrong!
Now you look down a little further — and here you don't have to go to Matthew 24 — you look here in the same chapter and it tells you what some of these things mean.
"The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are [this is what they represent; they're symbols, but they are — or represent] the angels of the seven churches. [Now that's what they represent]. And the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." (Revelation 1:20)
Now what was that sword coming out of His mouth? Well you find in the New Testament that the Bible is that sword. It is called "the sword of the Spirit of God" (Ephesians 6:17). And it's like a sharp two-edged sword. It cuts both ways. Why? Because the Word of God, or the Bible, is profitable to correct us and to reprove us, to instruct us in righteousness and to give us the right and sound doctrine instead of the precepts of men which people today have adopted for their doctrines (II Timothy 3:16). Now the Bible will cut — oh it will correct; and people don't love correction. That's why people translate the Bible — that's why they interpret, I should say. That's why one denomination gives it one interpretation and another, another interpretation. It's because when the Bible begins to correct them, when it begins to reprove them, when it begins to show them where they're wrong, they can't take correction.
Now God chastens and corrects every son whom He loves. And if you are without correction you are not sons, God says, you are bastards! (Hebrews 12:6-8) And that's another ugly word. These ugly words — they're in the Bible. God speaks in plain language. He doesn't pull His punches; He speaks right out what He means. And listen: everyone who refuses correction and who is not corrected is not a son of God. They are not the children of God; they are not saints or converted Christians; God calls them bastards.
God corrects Whom He Loves Now that's over here — maybe I'd better read that. I don't want you to think I'm using language like that myself. That's right in your Bible back here in the Hebrews. Let's turn to it just a moment — real quickly. Back here in the book of Hebrews in the twelfth chapter — begin with the fifth verse.
"Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the [Eternal, or the] Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him [and that's quoted from Proverbs the third chapter (verse 11]. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." (Hebrews 12:5-6)
You know, I know that God loves me. I know there's some critics that — they hate me. And if they were God, they would — well they wouldn't stop at having me tarred and feathered. They'd have me boiled in oil or something. They hate me because of what I say; and they don't hate me for myself. It isn't Herbert W Armstrong they hate; it's the Word of God that Herbert W Armstrong speaks. It's because I preach the Word of God; and the Word of God rebukes and reproves them; and they just can't take it. But I know God loves me whether they do or not. They may hate me, but God loves me.
And I'll tell you how I know. He has corrected me so much; He has punished me so much and straightened me out. He's turned me right-side-up; I was upside-down and didn't know it. But God first turned me right-side-up and He has used me to turn a lot of you right-side-up, too. Some of the critics don't like it, but He has used me as an instrument. He first had to turn me right-side-up and then He's been using me to turn a lot of you the same way.
Those of you who have been willing to take correction, those of you that have been willing to take reproof:
"Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." (Hebrews 12:6)
I want to tell you, my friends, if Mrs. Armstrong and I hadn't gone through a lot of that and if we hadn't had to suffer, we wouldn't be here telling you the things we are today. And this broadcast wouldn't be going to the millions all around the world preaching the same gospel that Jesus Christ brought and proclaimed 1900 years ago and which the devil and his cohorts in this world have done everything they could to bury it under their rubbish heap of pagan superstitions! God Almighty has seen to it, it would come out again at this time.
"[Now] if you endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons [that is verse 8, the twelfth chapter of Hebrews]. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?" (Hebrews 12:7-9)
Well there you are.
A Woman Is A Church Now then, we find that, in prophecy, a woman is a church. You find that, for instance, in the fifth chapter of Ephesians. I'll just turn to that real quickly for just a moment. And here we find it says something to wives. Of course this is not just old-fashioned, this is completely out-of-date today in this modern world. This is not the way the world believes it. But it says here:
"Wives submit unto your own husbands." (Ephesians 5:22)
You know a young girl today doesn't want any training. I tell you not very many girls want to take a 'home ec.' course today and learn how to be wives and mothers. They want to get their man alright. But they want to work in an office and they'd like to become an office manager so they can manage men. Yes, today women want to manage men; and it's in them. And that's one thing that, if a young girl can't overcome, she can never be a child of God. She's an apostate out in the world unless and until she can overcome it, I'll tell you that. It's about time we took it soberly and seriously.
"Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands." (Ephesians 5:22)
Maybe that's not fashionable, but that's the way God made it. AND YOU'RE GOING AGAINST NATURE AND YOU'RE GOING AGAINST THE LAWS OF GOD AND YOU'RE BRINGING DAMNATION ONTO YOURSELF AND YOU'RE BRINGING SUFFERING AND ANGUISH ON YOURSELVES whenever the world tries to go any other way. That's the LAW of God! And God's LAWS are ACTIVE and they are FORCES and they are POWERS and they are LIVING AND THEY ARE MOVING THINGS. And until we submit to them we can never find the way to PEACE and the way to HAPPINESS and the way to everything we want.
Now he continues here:
"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church...and gave himself for it. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their husbands in every thing." (Ephesians 5:23-25)
The Church there is put in the category of a woman who is the affianced bride engaged to be married to Christ! And the marriage, the wedding supper, the marriage of the Lamb will take place at the Second Coming of Christ!
Now the woman, then, is the Church; these are symbols.
"There appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun." (Revelation 12:1)
Well now, incidentally, I can give you another scripture where the woman is the Church, too. And that's in II Corinthians 11 where Paul calls the church at Corinth, to whom he is writing, as "a woman espoused to a husband." (II Corinthians 11:2)
Now this is the Church, then, and she is... "clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet [the sun rules the day and she's full of light. The moon under her feet... the moon rules the night and that's the symbol of darkness or error. And she has all the darkness and error under her feet]. And she had a crown of twelve stars. And she, being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered." (Revelation 12:1-2)
Now you say, "The New Testament Church — Christ was not born out of the New Testament Church — it was born from Him. So how do we figure that?" Well if you will turn back to, let me see, the seventh chapter of the book of Acts and here in the thirty-eighth verse speaking of Moses and the Church back in the wilderness and of Christ being with them there it says, "This is he that was in the Church in the wilderness, with the angel which spoke to him in the Mount Sinai, with our fathers who received the lively oracles to give unto us." (Acts 7:38)
So the congregation of Israel, back in the wilderness, was the 'church in the wilderness.' That was the Old Testament Church. And the word, 'congregation,' means, 'church.' The word, 'church,' means, 'congregation,' or 'assembly,' or 'a crowd,' or 'a gathering.' That's what it means. And the congregation of Israel was merely the Old Testament Church.
Now they didn't have salvation; they didn't have the gospel. They only had the material law of rituals and carnal ordinances and the sacrifices and things, in addition, of course, to the Ten Commandments — which they were unable to keep in the Spirit because they didn't have the Holy Spirit. So they had substitutes for the Holy Spirit and the way of rituals and meat and drink offerings and animal sacrifices for sin and all that sort of thing. But that was the Church — and the only Church that God had on earth just the same; and that was the Church that is here spoken of.
"And she, being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered [speaking of the birth of Christ]. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads [now just a little later it'll tell us who that dragon is. That's a symbol. Some people say who is the dragon — pagan Rome. That isn't what my Bible says at all. Now I know a church denomination that says that's pagan Rome. But that isn't what the Bible says. Now let's read on and see what the Bible says]. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven [we just read back here in the first chapter that the stars are the angels. So his tail, whoever he is, he drew a third part of the angels of heaven]. And did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman [that's the Church now] which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born." (Revelation 12:2-4)
Now of course he tried to devour the physical child by having all the babies slain at that time. But that wouldn't have devoured the child, Jesus. God Almighty could have resurrected Him immediately. But when the devil tried to tempt Jesus Christ on the mount in the temptation, if he had conquered Christ then, he would have devoured Him spiritually and for all eternity. But he wasn't able. Christ conquered him. But anyway:
"She brought forth a man child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne." (Revelation 12:5)
You see in one verse it shows the birth of Christ, all of His ministry, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His ascension — "being caught up to God and his throne." Time is fleeting here in this twelfth chapter of Revelation. In one verse here covered about thirty-three and a half years. And in another verse it'll cover 1260 years. It's covering time very rapidly.
Woman equals New Testament Church "Now the woman..."(Revelation 12:6) Now it's the New Testament Church: now that woman has the Holy Spirit; now that woman has the gospel; now that woman has a new priesthood — not the old priesthood of Aaron, or the Levitical priesthood, but now this Church has the priesthood of Melchizedek restored under Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ is now her High Priest. And now she has the gospel; now she has the power of the Holy Spirit; and now she has salvation.
"And the woman fled into the wilderness." (Revelation 12:6)
This jumps way up several hundred years all of a sudden. And because of persecution...now I have shown you in the past few broadcasts that the true Church was to be persecuted, was to become scattered. And she was persecuted because the truth of Jesus Christ. And the customs that He set for us to follow as His example are not popular in this world; and the world has never followed them! And now this Church was so persecuted that she was scattered and driven away from the organized society of the Western world, at that time ruled over by the government from Rome, and fled into the wilderness — the mountain vastness and the deserts!
"...where she hath a place prepared of God [yes God saw to it; God prepared the place] that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three-score days." (Revelation 12:6)
Now in times like this you will find back in, let me see, Numbers 14:33 (and 34) and the fourth chapter of Ezekiel (verses 1-6) you will find that a day is a whole year being fulfilled — so that this twelve hundred and three score days, or 1260 days, was actually 1260 years being fulfilled. And, my friends, that happened. The true Church was persecuted!
And let me give you one reason they were persecuted and considered anathema from Christ: and that when the church — THE GREAT, POWERFUL, AND PROFESSING CHURCH — pronounced them heretics, then the civil government and the police officers would begin to torture them until death, unless they would recant.
This is one of the decrees that were passed at the Council of Laodicea: "Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath. But they must work on that day (on the Sabbath — God said, 'You shall rest.' And the power of men said you shall work on that day, resting, rather, on Sunday as Christians). But if any be found to be Judaizing (that is obeying God — which was not Judaizing, by the way, that was a big lie, but they claimed it) let them be declared anathema!"
And that meant a heretic and then they were put to death. And the martyrs of Jesus, I tell you, that power that caused them to be put to death as you read in Revelation seventeen was DRUNKEN ON THE BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS OF JESUS — BETWEEN FIFTY AND A HUNDRED MILLIONS were put to death during those years!
OH I TELL YOU, MY FRIENDS, THIS WAS A HEINOUS THING! IT WAS A HORRIBLE, A COLOSSAL THING! And, of course, it's way back there in the past — long before we were born. And we don't think any more of it today. God Almighty has not forgotten; God Almighty is going to send His judgments in His time that He has decreed.
Now that 1260 years went by. And finally it comes down to our day today, if you pass the moving of the time element in this prophecy.
"And there was war in heaven [that's down in our time now]. Michael and his angels [Michael is the archangel that stands up for our people and our nation — our white English-speaking people, if you please], and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out [here's who he is], that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan [that's not pagan Rome; it's the devil himself], which deceiveth the whole world: [here is the whole world deceived and it's pictured here], and he was cast out into the earth, and his angels [now called, 'demons,'] were cast out with him." (Revelation 12:7-9)
Oh I'm going to have to drop off right there and pick it up there tomorrow and show you what happened and what is going to happen to the true Church in these latter days and where we are.
You know it's a lot later than most of us seem to think. Never before have world conditions been like they are now. World catastrophes are destined to rock this world in the next 15 or 20 years. You're going to live through these times. Yes world catastrophes are going to shake this world! And it's all written in advance in Bible prophecy. And the Bible can be understood now. It's the most important thing in your life.
Now I realize that the Bible has not been understood. Prophecies have never been understood till now. Do you know why? You find in the twelfth chapter of Daniel one of these great prophecies where it says — Daniel couldn't understand even what he was writing. But the angel that was revealing what he wrote to him, said, "Go thy way, Daniel, these words are closed and sealed till the time of the end." (Daniel 12:9)
Yes they've been closed and sealed till now. But now, my friends, God's time has come to reveal them. You can know what's going to happen to your nation — what you're going to have to live through in these next few years.