HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG
P.O. BOX 431, TUCSON, ARIZONA 85702
March 19, 1981
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ:
It has now been almost six weeks since I wrote you. I told you then, that despite Satan's vicious and often massive attacks to DESTROY God's Work, it was in the best condition ever. It was PLUNGING AHEAD in a NEW burst of power, coming in on the homestretch of our race to FINISH the tremendous commission to which the living GOD has called us!
That renewed revitalized SURGE OF POWER has continued! Jesus Christ IS PLEASED with your SACRIFICE to send in enlarged offerings that His Work may leap forward and be enlarged! The increase in results—in new members—in more TV and radio stations—in income to provide for a more powerful lunge forward—in every way there is INCREASE! But so far, it's only a START! Now we must INCREASE our sacrifices and our EFFORTS!
In recent weeks three new MAJOR TV STATIONS in MAJOR MARKETS have opened their doors to us. The number one television station of Chicago, WGN, has opened. The number one station in the Rocky Mountain area, KOA in Denver, has opened, and also the number one station in the central southwest area—KCMO of Kansas City. These are really POWER- HOUSES! As we move forward, showing Christ we are in earnest and putting HIM and His Work FIRST in our lives, HE also is MOVING FORWARD, opening new doors—blessing the Work—restraining Satan—empowering us in HIS SERVICE!
Plans are moving forward rapidly preparing the opening this fall of the new JUNIOR COLLEGE at BIG SANDY! The faculty is chosen. All faculty members have been chosen, and accepted the assignment. The faculty consists of seven Ph.D.s and 11 M.A.s—a superb faculty, and ALL MEMBERS of God's Church.
We could now qualify for accreditation both at Pasadena and Big Sandy—but we shall not, because the GOVERNMENT of the colleges would have to be according to that which is in force in this world's educational institutions—GOD'S government would have to go. WE ALREADY HAVE THE HIGHEST ACCREDITATION OF ALL—THAT OF ALMIGHTY GOD!
The Work as a whole has actually started a decisive UPWARD trend since last November. The increase over the year before in the United States is mounting to the 20 percent increase —and in Britain, West Germany, European nations, South Africa, Canada, the Philippines, it is back about 30 percent again—as of the first 35 years of the Work. Australia and New Zealand are showing similar gains. When WE please GOD, He expands His Work He is doing through us!
Brethren, God is pleased with our recent greater efforts and increased devotion to HIS WORK, and is answering our prayers! I have asked you to devote more time and more intensity and fervency to your prayers for the Work at this crucial stage in the very special Work He has given His Church of this particular generation to do. Results show you have responded. BUT I FEEL WE NEED A STILL MORE SERIOUS SENSE OF URGENCY right now—a still deeper dedication to PRAYER at this time. We CANNOT AFFORD TO BECOME LUKEWARM! We cannot afford to let our minds drift from the intense NEED for this very special mission of this particular time in world history, so shortly before Christ's coming and HIS KINGDOM! It must be FIRST in our minds and hearts—not interests of this world.
Now about the Work itself. I think I should address a certain point at this time. Actually it has been more of a question in the public press than among ourselves. They seem continually to have asked: "Who will succeed Herbert W. Armstrong? Who will rule the Church and all the college assets?" They cannot understand that Jesus Christ is a LIVING Christ—that HE is the Head of the Church, and if they want an answer to that question they would have to ask HIM! To the world, there is no living Jesus Christ in the picture at all. To them this Church is merely an organization of PEOPLE—like a social club, or any other church where a group of PEOPLE have associated themselves together for their own religious purposes.
Few understand just what IS the Church. There are so many churches in the world. People just take churches for granted. But more than 1,953 years ago, Jesus Christ said, "I will build my Church." Few know WHY He built it—for what PURPOSE. The purpose, primarily, was dual:
1) to proclaim to the world the Gospel Message God sent to mankind by Jesus as God's Messenger (Mal. 3:1) of the coming Kingdom of God,
2) to call and prepare a chosen people to be born as IMmortal Spirit Persons in the GOD FAMILY, to RULE, with and under Christ, all nations of the earth—and to JUDGE all who ever lived in the JUDGMENT DAY when they shall be resurrected—after the coming thousand- year reign of God's Kingdom over all nations on earth. Those people now being called and prepared will constitute the spiritual TEMPLE to which Christ shall come the second time in POWER and GREAT GLORY!
The churches of this world know nothing of this two-fold PURPOSE! They have not proclaimed His Gospel Message. They know nothing of His Government, based on His spiritual LAW, and in no way have prepared people to rule in God's Government with THE LAW OF GOD.
The true Church started out in the POWER of the Holy Spirit of God. But by A.D. 53, when the apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians, that Gospel Message was being SUPPRESSED (Gal. 1:6-7). By A.D. 70 the true Church went underground, a PERSECUTED Church described in Revelation 12. The great false church had risen described in Revelation 17.
By 1927, when God first challenged me into the most intensive, in-depth night-and-day Bible study, the Church had become virtually dead spiritually (Rev. 3:1).
Now HOW HAS GOD WORKED THROUGH HUMANS? He has always worked through one man at a time as a leader. He gave the promises on which all salvation depends to ONE MAN, Abraham. He repromised them to ONE man, Isaac, and again to Jacob. Four hundred thirty years after Abraham, God raised up ONE MAN as leader—Moses. Moses was specially trained from childhood. He didn't let Moses die until his commission of leading the chosen people to the promised land was COMPLETED, when Moses was 120 years old.
God used ONE MAN to lead the Israelites across the Jordan river into that promised land. After Joshua, at first there was no leader. Every man did what was right in his own eyes. The Israelites disobeyed God and soon became a conquered vassal nation. God raised up ONE MAN—a "judge"—to deliver them into freedom again. Again and again the nation sinned and became a vassal nation. Again each time God raised up ONE MAN to deliver them — see book of Judges.
Then God raised up ONE MAN, Samuel, specially prepared from childhood, by which GOD ruled the nation (I Sam. 8:7). The people wanted a KING like other nations (verse 6). God allowed them to have Saul as king. Then God chose ONE MAN, David, to lead His people. He was followed by Solomon, who turned to women and their false gods in later life. With worldly kings, both Israel and Judah eventually went into national captivity, removal from the promised land and slavery.
In Jesus' time the Jews descended from the colony headed by Zerubbabel who built the second temple (to which Christ came the first time). The Jews were a vassal people under the Roman Empire government.
For His Church, at first, Jesus chose ONE MAN, Simon, whom He surnamed "Peter," meaning a title such as "leader" (John 1:42, Mark 3:16). When Peter and the original twelve had gone to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:6, 15:24) God raised up the apostle Paul, who had supervision over all the churches (II Cor. 11:28).
The apostasy and falling away from God's basic original TRUTH started about A.D. 54, near the time Paul wrote of the Galatians turning to a counterfeit gospel (Gal. 1:6-7). That spirit of iniquity, contrary to God's Law, was already working when Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (II Thess. 2:7).
The Church continued, often meeting secretly "underground," often fleeing, many being tortured and martyred. By 1926 when I first came among that fledgling Church, it was spiritually dead (Rev. 3:1). They still clung to the truth of the Sabbath, the Law of God and the true name. But much original truth had been lost, though it was all recorded in the Scriptures. But, even late in the first century, Jude pleaded for God's people to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
But by 1926 we had come to the VERY GENERATION of the END TIME—coming close to the time of Christ's return as all-conquering, world-ruling KING of kings in supreme POWER and GLORY.
What had God FORETOLD for this very time? Look at significant prophecies. Look at WHAT HAS HAPPENED! Ask yourself, HAVE THESE PROPHECIES BEEN FULFILLED before our very eyes and ears?
Look at Jesus' prophecy, Matthew 24! He had been showing His disciples the buildings of the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus told them the temple would be completely destroyed (verse 2). Later, on the Mount of Olives they privately asked Him when what He said would happen, and a second question, what would be the SIGN of His Second Coming and the END of the present world's society and civilization (verse 3). They thought His Second Coming would be in their lifetime.
Actually, the temple was destroyed in their lifetime, in A.D. 70. So first Jesus answered what would occur in their time—although it actually continued until our time. "Take heed that no man deceive you," He said (verses 4-5), "For many shall come in my name saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many." The counterfeit gospel proclaimed Jesus as the Christ, but deceived many. That continued to our time. But the Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD was suppressed.
Jesus did not answer their second question about His Second Coming until verse 14: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Following this (verses 21-22) would come the Great Tribulation, followed by miraculous signs in the sky (verse 29) and the Second Coming (verse 30).
Paul wrote of the suppressing of the Gospel of the Kingdom at about A.D. 53. That Gospel was not preached until 1934. By 1953, a 19-year time cycle, it had gone coast to coast in the United States. In 1953—a century of time cycles from the suppression of the Gospel—it went out on the most powerful radio station on earth—Radio Luxembourg—and has continued worldwide since. God DOES THINGS ON TIME!
Now consider the prophecy of Malachi 3:1-5. In verse 1, God will send a human messenger to prepare the way before Christ, coming as the Messenger of the New COVENANT. Now what coming of Christ is this prophecy talking about? Read verses 2 to 5. Jesus did none of those things at His first coming—but WILL DO THEM AT HIS SOON SECOND COMING! So the prophecy is, actually, foretelling primarily a messenger to prepare the way for His SOON SECOND COMING! vYet Mark 1 and other New Testament scriptures identify John the Baptist as fulfilling that prophecy.
But REMEMBER GOD'S PURPOSE WORKS IN A PROCESS of DUALITY! John the Baptist was a TYPE or forerunner, of one to prepare the way for His Second Coming. Jesus is to come to His TEMPLE (Mal. 3:1). He came to a material temple of stone, wood, gold and materials A.D. 27-31. To what Temple will He come IN OUR TIME, SOON NOW?
Hold this prophecy of Malachi 3 in mind, and turn to Haggai 2, beginning verse 3. Zerubbabel was governor of a colony of Jews sent from Babylon back to Jerusalem 70 years after destruction of Solomon's temple, to build a new temple. This also was days of prophets Ezra and Nehemiah. Zerubbabel was builder of this second temple. It was the temple to which Jesus came at His first appearing as a human.
Verse 3, the former temple of Solomon was then as nothing compared to its original physical glory. God commands Zerubbabel to be strong and work to build the temple (verse 4). Verse 6 goes into a far-future prophecy of a time just before Christ's Second Coming, when God will shake the earth and shake all nations, and the GLORY OF THIS LATTER HOUSE SHALL BE GREATER THAN OF THE FORMER" (verse 9). The temple Zerubbabel built of stone, wood and physical materials was nowhere near as glorious as the former temple of Solomon! This is a PROPHECY speaking about the temple to which Christ shall come the second time, in supreme POWER and GLORY—a temple far more glorious than Solomon's! vTo WHAT temple will Christ come very soon now? Are the Jews going to demolish the Moslem temple, Dome of the Rock, which stands on that site now, and build a new super-glorious new temple? NO! Turn to Ephesians 2:19-22. The Church at Ephesus was composed of former gentiles. They are no longer foreign gentiles, but fellow-citizens with the saints — a spiritual NATION. They are also a FAMILY—of the "household" of GOD—the GOD FAMILY. As a BUILDING they are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being chief cornerstone. As a BUILDING, they are fitly framed together (in UNIFIED ORGANIZATION) growing into a HOLY T E M P L E!
At Christ's Second Coming, what happens to the CHURCH? Those dead "in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thess. 4:16-17). And where shall we be WITH Him? Where shall HE be? "His feet shall stand in that day (of His coming) on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem" (Zech. 14:4).
The Church, caught up to meet Him in the air as He is COMING, those who have died will be raised IMmortal. But we, if still alive, shall "be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye...and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" to spirit GOD PERSONS (I Cor. 15:51-52).
In that CHANGED, glorified SPIRIT immortal condition, we shall be the T E M P L E far more glorious than was Solomon's temple!
Now back again to Malachi 3:1-5. At His Second Coming (verses 2-5), Jesus is coming to a SPIRITUAL temple far more glorious than was Solomon's temple. vZerubbabel built the second temple to which Jesus came the first time. John the Baptist prepared the way before the FIRST coming. But WHO was to build the SPIRITUAL temple to which Christ shall soon come the second time? Who was to prepare the way before His Second Coming?
Remember God does things in DUAL stages. As Zerubbabel built the first temple of MATERIAL stone, wood and other materials, he was a forerunner or type of one through whom Christ would raise up or build the SPIRITUAL TEMPLE—His Church of our time, prior to the Day of the Lord and Christ's Second Coming. As John the Baptist prepared the way, in the PHYSICAL wilderness of the Jordan River for the first coming of the HUMAN Jesus (both man and God), then coming to His MATERIAL temple, and to His PHYSICAL people Judah, ANNOUNCING the Kingdom of God to be set up more than 1,900 years later, SO God would use a human messenger in the SPIRITUAL wilderness of 20th-century religious confusion, to be a voice CRYING OUT the Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD, about the SPIRITUAL CHRIST, coming in SUPREME POWER AND GLORY to His SPIRITUAL TEMPLE, to actually ESTABLISH that spiritual KINGDOM OF GOD.
Brethren, HAS THAT BEEN DONE BY THIS CHURCH? Did God raise up a one-man LEADERSHIP to be used by Him in building this spiritual TEMPLE and in proclaiming after 1,900 years the true GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD in ALL THE WORLD—to even go to kings and heads of nations (Rev. 10:11)—in bringing the Church back to the FAITH ONCE DELIVERED (Jude 3)?
HAS THIS HAPPENED, IN YOUR DAYS, AND HAS GOD BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT AS A PART OF IT?
HAS ANYONE ELSE DONE IT? Brethren, HOW did the living Christ prepare me from youth to lead you?
At age 16, on my first job away from my home city, my employer aroused the spark of ambition within me. At age 18, I began fulfilling the "7 Laws of Success"—all but the seventh, which is guidance from God in being led into the RIGHT goal, and general divine guidance. But I was trained in WRITING both advertising copy and magazine articles. I was trained in the magazine and newspaper business. I was led where I would have continual contact with successful men who had built some of the biggest industries and biggest banks in the United States or the world. I was trained in speaking to businessmen.
At age 34, God had me disturbingly CHALLENGED as I had never been before about keeping GOD'S SABBATH. I was forced into the most intensive and in-depth night-and-day study and research of my life. I then believed just the OPPOSITE of what GOD SAYS in His Word. I was trying to prove I was right—to HAVE MY OWN WAY. In that first beginning six months' deep study of the Bible, I learned I had believed the very opposite of WHAT GOD SAYS.
In that period God OPENED MY UNDERSTANDING to most of the MAJOR BASICS OF GOD'S TRUTH THAT THE CHURCHES AND RELIGIONS OF THIS WORLD HAD LOST — indeed, even the flickering remnant of the TRUE Church had lost!
He opened my mind to HIS LAW. Not only the Ten Commandments and the Sabbath, but the annual festivals and Holy Days. I learned the truth about God's GOVERNMENT having been established on earth under the archangel Lucifer, and the origin of Satan and PURPOSE of God in restoring God's Government over the earth. I learned Jesus was born to be a KING, which traditional "Christianity" seems not to know. I learned our identity as being of the lost tribes of Israel, and the difference between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. This gave me the KEY to understanding PROPHECIES! God revealed to me the symbols and truths of the book of Revelation as revealed through Matthew 24 and Daniel. I learned the Kingdom of God will be ON EARTH.
NO MAN taught me these truths. As the original apostles were taught by Jesus IN PERSON, so was I taught by Jesus Christ IN WRITING. It is the SAME WORD—the SAME TEACHING.
I LOST that challenge. I had to GIVE UP MY WAY! I had to give up MYSELF—and give myself to Christ, who had bought and paid for me. It took an inner battle—a struggle against having my own way. I made, in my mind, heart and innermost intention, a COMPLETE SURRENDER to God. I told Him if He could use such a worthless life as mine, He could have it.
Two can't walk together except they be AGREED! I now AGREED with Christ. I have NEVER DISAGREED. You yourself—every begotten child of God—does, through human weakness, commit sin even after the most deep conversion. None has lived perfectly but JESUS. But when I stumbled through human weakness, Jesus picked me back up on confessing to Him and repenting, and asking help never to repeat the sin. At no point did I DISAGREE nor water down HIS TRUTH.
He used me in building the Philadelphia era of HIS CHURCH—and in proclaiming His Gospel IN ALL THE WORLD!
Now He has brought this Great Commission near its FINISH. Neither I nor you know how much longer will be required completely to finish it! vBut as I said at the beginning, some, even in the public press, are beginning to ask, WHO is the "heir apparent," as the newspapers put it? WHO will rule the Church after Mr. Armstrong?
The answer is, NOBODY! I have gone to considerable length in this letter to show you how God does His Work among humans through one man at a time. He specially prepared me for the Work He has called me to do. I know of NO ONE ELSE who has been so prepared.
My son Garner Ted Armstrong, as I have said, and he has said, has NOT AGREED with me as I was brought to agree with Christ. Some newspapers have speculated that Mr. Stanley R. Rader would succeed me as Christ's apostle. But as he himself has said before our brethren, and in the public press, his qualifications ARE ALTOGETHER DIFFERENT. He is a man of brilliant mind and expertise in accounting, finance, law and in many respects in this world's governments. But he is not qualified to lead God's people SPIRITUALLY, nor to become the human leader of the Church under Christ, if I have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5) and I think I have.
Beginning with the massive legal attack on this Church by the State of California, January 3, 1979, sweeping changes were necessarily made in the organizational structure of the Church and Work. God providentially had moved me out of California to Tucson, Arizona, almost a year before. A new corporation was formed, the Herbert W. Armstrong corporation sole. All tithes and offerings were directed to Tucson. That, for the present, is continuing.
But while God has always worked through one man at a time as leader over His people, He also has given wise instruction, and those He has chosen should heed it. 1) We are not to put our trust in MAN, but in God. On the other hand, through Solomon God says that IN MULTITUDE OF COUNSELORS there is safety.
I have always followed that principle, calling from time to time on various ones competent in whatever field was in question, for advice and counsel before making the decision.
I have used the board members of both the Ambassador College corporation and the Worldwide Church of God, Inc., board as counselors.
But now, in the corporation sole, under which the day-to-day operations are now conducted, there is no board of directors, and none called for by law. In lieu thereof, I have formed the new ADVISORY COUNCIL OF ELDERS. That Council, at present, is composed of the following experienced elders, all of many years' faithful and loyal experience as ministers in God's Church.
The Council of Elders, as of now, consists of Dibar Apartian, Dean Blackwell, Robert Fahey, Ellis LaRavia, Raymond McNair, Leroy Neff, Joseph Tkach, Leon Walker and, as adviser to the Council, Ralph Helge.
Now as to any possible successor to me. God has never removed a man called to a specific leadership or assignment or commission until his mission is COMPLETED.
1) Has the commission of carrying the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world been completed? How far does God expect it to go? Only HE knows. It has gone to multiple millions. It has gone into all continents. It is still going. I am preparing to speed up its proclamation to the world as we come in on the homestretch. But I DO NOT KNOW, nor does any but GOD know, where that finish line is! WE MAY BE CLOSER TO IT THAN WE REALIZE!
2) The CHURCH for this present era has been raised up. God's TRUTH has been restored to it. IF, and AS God may reveal any more truth, I will assuredly share it with you. I have done, and am doing, the best I can with God's help to help you all to GROW in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am doing what I can to HIGH PRESSURE YOU into a DEEPER spiritual life with Christ, a deeper, more fervent PRAYER LIFE.
Perhaps my job in these areas is not yet finished. GOD WILL KEEP ME ALIVE AND ON THE JOB AS LONG AS HE NEEDS ME, and I will serve Him to my utmost as long as He leaves me FREE to do so, and gives me the breath of life.
I have shown you that the book of Haggai is a PROPHECY. Zerubbabel's temple, to which Jesus came at His first coming, was a TYPE of the SPIRITUAL TEMPLE (God's CHURCH) to which, in its resurrected GLORIFIED state, it will be the GLORIOUS TEMPLE to which Christ will come SOON NOW IN OUR TIME.
Zerubbabel, therefore, was the typical forerunner of one Christ would use to build that GLORIFIED SPIRITUAL TEMPLE—God's Church of this END TIME.
In Zechariah 4:6 and 9, God says of this former type: "This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power (humanly), but by MY SPIRIT, saith the Lord of hosts." In Revelation 3:8, Christ says of the leader of today's Church, "I know thy works; behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength (only a little strength humanly), and has kept my word, and hast not denied my name." This Work in our day has not been done by human strength or power, but by FAITH and the POWER OF GOD'S SPIRIT.
Further, "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house (the first temple); his hands shall also FINISH IT!" So far as I know, GOD HAS NOT RAISED UP ANYONE ELSE TO FINISH THIS WORK HE HAS USED ME IN DOING!
God could take my life in the next breath—or He has power to keep me on the job as His instrument for as long as He deems necessary.
I have NEVER SAID I expect to live until Christ comes. But, just in case of my disability for any reason, to prevent Satan from causing division, I feel God has inspired me to delegate power to the Advisory Council, during any such complete disability, to take full charge of the Work and all its assets and activities.
The CHURCH must not be scattered. It must not become scattered, because there is no COMPETENT, CHRIST-CHOSEN SPIRITUAL SHEPHERD, TO BECOME MEAT FOR BEASTS (human) OF THE FIELD! (See Ezekiel 34:5.) This is a safeguard for YOUR protection.
This letter is already overlong, but I felt important.
I urge all who have not already asked for it, to request the new Lesson 13 of the Bible Correspondence Course.
Brethren, NEVER were your prayers so URGENTLY NECESSARY—both for YOU and the Work—and for me! My life has been threatened—but by faith in God it shall be spared until my work is complete. I now have to ask you to sacrifice and send in special EXTRA generous offerings more than ever before. Time is short. Soon there shall be a FAMINE of hearing the Word of God (Amos 8:11). If we work harder now, SO WILL SATAN. SO PRAY AS NEVER BEFORE!
With deep love, in Jesus' name,
Herbert W. Armstrong