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Leadership in God's Church
Good News Magazine
August 1975
Volume: Vol XXIV, No. 8
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Leadership in God's Church
Herbert W Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: July 31, 1892
Died: January 16, 1986
Member Since: 1928
Ordained: 1931
Office: Apostle

Herbert W. Armstrong founded the Worldwide Church of God in the late 1930s, as well as Ambassador College in 1946, and was an early pioneer of radio and tele-evangelism, originally taking to the airwaves in the 1930s from Eugene, Oregon.

I have been thinking about a vital subject for some time now, and decided I should share those thoughts with all of our GN readers. That extremely important subject is leadership in God's Church — how it is something entirely different than executive leadership in an industrial corporation, a commercial business, or a university.

   Of course, there must be leadership in God's Church, just as there must be in a commercial enterprise or any institution. It must not be guided like a ship at sea with several rudders and multiple captains, each turning his rudder in a different direction.
   Yet the leadership in the Church of God must be, in another sense, entirely different than that of, say, an industrial corporation.
   We need to understand what that difference is.
   Just as in a commercial business or any institution, the leadership must be in the hands of one who knows what is the purpose, function and commission of the Church. He must be able to lead the Church undeviatingly on course toward that goal.
   The first law of success in any operation, enterprise, or even in personal life, is to have the right goal and to continually hew to the line, never to be led off on some tangent or lured astray from the goal.
   Yet there is one outstanding difference. In fact, just about everything in God's Work is utterly unique — unlike any other operation.
   In an industrial corporation, for example, the leader — the chief executive — is usually a nine-to-five desk executive. He is managing a factory. His office will be within the factory, or, in a large corporation, in the executive office building adjoining. All of the operations he must oversee and manage, except perhaps marketing, sales and purchasing of raw materials, are in this same plant. He may take an occasional trip to the source of raw material purchasing, or to inspect his sales and distribution system. But primarily he manages the enterprise as a nine-to-five desk executive at the factory.
   Some might think God's Work should be managed in the same way, by a nine-to-five desk executive.
   Now let's understand the difference.

   First of all, where does the leadership in God's Church reside? The answer is simple and clear. "Christ is the head of the church" (Eph. 5:23).
   And Jesus said: "All power is given unto me in heaven and ill earth" (Matt. 28:18). This was said after His resurrection, just before He ascended into heaven. He has full authority over the Church. He was sending His apostles forth in His name, which means empowered as His chosen representatives, clothed with that power and authority. And He followed those words with the Great Commission — the purpose of His Work: "Go ye therefore" — that is, as a result of the fact that all power and authority is vested in Him — "and teach all nations ..." (Matt. 28:19).

   The leadership is vested in Christ. But He, sending forth His apostles to proclaim His gospel message of the Kingdom of God, vested chief leadership of the Israelites in Peter, and chief leadership of the Gentiles in Paul (Gal. 2:7-8).
   The very word "apostle" means "one sent." Not one staying home as a nine-to-five desk executive.
   How does Christ exercise His leadership? What is His leadership like? He is "the same yesterday, today and forever." So, how did He lead yesterday? And how today?
   In Moses' day Christ led His Church — the congregation of Israel — through Moses. Moses had his critics who questioned his leadership. But God did not supply leadership through Moses' critics, but through Moses, the man He Himself had chosen. It was actually. Christ's leadership (He was the God of the Old Testament). But He led through Moses.
   Moses' critics were of two classes — the congregation as a whole, and a few close to the top in high positions.
   When God called Moses to Mt. Sinai to receive instruction, you will read that "the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him" (Ex. 32:1).
   I have experienced a similar situation in the early days of this Work in Eugene, Oregon. But in this instance, Moses had to face a credibility gap. He was the man God had chosen for leadership over them.
   But God Himself ran up against a credibility gap with our very first parents. Adam and Eve didn't believe or obey their Maker. They doubted. Satan has had people doubting God ever since. But does that make God wrong and the doubters right? No, "let God be true, but every man a liar" (Rom. 3:4). God was exercising right leadership in teaching Adam and Eve, but they did not recognize nor accept even the divine leadership! The same was true with the Israelites at
Jesus said: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." This was said after His resurrection, just before He ascended into heaven. He has full authority over the Church. He was sending His apostles forth in His name, which means empowered as His chosen representatives, clothed with that power and authority.
Mt. Sinai. It was God's leadership through Moses, but the people did not recognize it, departed from it and turned to sin!

   Though some few have done likewise today, let us be glad and rejoice that God's Church today is solidly together!
   But Moses' leadership was also questioned by men in high position in God's Church (the congregation of Israel).
   "Now Korah... and Dathan and Abiram... took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation [the Church] are holy, everyone of them, and the Eternal is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Eternal?" (Num. 16:1-3.)
   A small group of dissident ministers, some in high positions, did the same thing in God's Church in our day — just a little over a year ago. Oh yes, it can happen here! Are we so different today? Is not Satan. just as eager to cause this same kind of rebellion against the living God in our day, as he was in Moses' day? But thank God for the leadership of Jesus Christ. As in Moses' day He has held His Church together — the dissenters are gone!
   "Moses said unto Korah... Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the Eternal, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them? And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also? For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the Eternal ..." (verses 8-11).
   Notice, these men were already in a high position over the people, and brought close to God. But that was not enough! They were interested in high status, for themselves, rather than opportunities to serve God and God's people. But continue on.
   How does God look at this sort of thing? Has He changed today?
   "And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram... which said, We will not come up." Flat disobedience! Refusal to obey an official order by God's human leader. Continue — notice their resentful attitude and refusal to recognize it was God, acting through Moses, who brought them out of Egypt — "Is it a small thing that thou [not God] hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?... We will not come up"! (Verses 12-14.)
   How did God look at all this? He acted, as recorded in verses 31-32: "And it came to pass... that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah [including Dathan and Abiram], and all their goods."
   The one who was faithful in God's sight was Moses, the man God had chosen, and not those who criticized and opposed.
   God ruled His congregation (Church) in Moses' day through Moses, who appointed leaders under him over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties, and over tens. It was a chain of authority from God the Father, through Christ (it was the One who became Christ who was the God of the Old Testament; write for our free article "Is Jesus God?" for proof), through Moses, and then those under Moses.

   But highest in the priesthood was Aaron, brother of Moses; and their sister Miriam was a prophetess. These two criticized Moses.
   "And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the Eternal indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Eternal heard it. (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) And the Eternal spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the Eternal ... called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And he said, Hear now my words... wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the Eternal was kindled against them; and he departed" (Num. 12:1-9).
   But continue: As soon as the Eternal departed, "... the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous" (verse 10). At Moses' urgent prayer, God healed her after seven days.

   But do these experiences of ancient times have any significance for us today? Speaking of such incidents under Moses in the wilderness, you will read in I Corinthians 10:6: "Now these things were our examples"; and in verse II: "Now all these things happened
We keep our eyes steadfast on the prime and central goal: Go ye into all the world... proclaiming the Kingdom of God, preparing the way for Christ's coming. Today God is opening mighty doors, clear at the very top of many nations, for the proclaiming of the gospel message that has never reached those nations before.
unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
   Do they mean anything? Or do we shrug them off carelessly, with no fear of the living God?
   Jesus' personal ministry on earth, of course, occurred before He built His Church. Jesus set the example, and also gave the Great Commission — which is the goal for future Church leadership.
   What was His example? Jesus was decidedly NOT a nine-to-five desk executive. He probably did not even have a desk. It is recorded: "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom... " (Matt. 4:23).
   Yet human nature has not changed since Moses' day. Who was it that finally betrayed Christ to be put to death? It was one of His own top men — one of His elite inner circle — one of His twelve at the top, and closest to Him! But Judas no longer remained with the twelve. He no longer was part of God's Work. Just like those in Moses' day. Just like in the early years of the present Philadelphia era at Eugene, Oregon. And just like it still is today! Jesus Christ is still the same, yesterday, today and forever! (Heb. 13:8.) The dissidents, the critics, the traitors do not remain in the Work. They fall by the wayside. But probably they will never learn that lesson.
   And, when Jesus had finished the work He personally was to do on earth — when the time came when He was going to lead the Work through humans He Himself chose, what did He command? How did He instruct those to whom He delegated the human leadership in His Church?
   He did not delegate the job of becoming nine-to-five desk executives, but said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel" — the message of the corning Kingdom of God (Mark 16:15).
   And THAT is THE WORK!

   As stated before, Jesus assigned Peter the responsibility for the leadership of the Work to Israel, and Paul to the Gentiles. They were apostles — ones sent — not desk executives. They went out proclaiming Christ's message of the Kingdom of God. They also proclaimed the message in writing. Their writings were inspired, and they became part of the inspired Scriptures — the very Word of God. Just as Garner Ted and I do, they preached, and they wrote.
   And they were in authority; the government of God was established in God's Church. They wielded that authority as they were guided by Christ through the Holy Spirit — just as I and Garner Ted do today. And they made final decisions on doctrine. As an example, you read in Acts 15 where Peter set the final decision, after which James, a pastor of the Headquarters Church at Jerusalem, made it official. That was the work and responsibility of God's apostle, and I follow that example today.
   In our day the living Christ called and chose me and raised up His Church of this present "Philadelphia" era through me in 1933. He started His Work, proclaimed the gospel message of the Kingdom of God, through me in personal campaigns, over the air, and in print beginning in January 1934.
   Through His Holy Spirit, the living Christ revealed plainly to me the goal of the Work:.... the main purpose of the Church — to go into all the world and preach and publish the message of the Kingdom of God!
   There have been, during these nearly 42 years, times when there was criticism, opposition, persecution, false accusation, and efforts to deviate from the one main purpose and goal. The false accusers and dissidents of 35-42 years ago left the Work, accomplished nothing themselves, and are mostly long since dead. But the Work carries on bigger and in far greater power than ever before!
   Of course, I knew when I was first called that opposition and persecution would come. This would not be the Work of God otherwise. I knew well that Jesus had said: "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). I had "counted the cost" before answering the call.

   The living Christ started the present phase of the Work through me in the summer and early autumn of 1933 by raising up the parent church in Eugene, Oregon. He had not yet provided me even with a car. I had to hitchhike to hold meetings proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
   The Church, raised up to back Christ's human servant in the Work, stood back of me as I went on the air, first for one week in October 1933, then regularly in January 1934, never to stop to this day.
   The Plain Truth was started February 1, 1934.
   I knew well the purpose of the Work: to go into all the world, proclaiming the message of the Kingdom of God. The purpose of the Church was, and still is, to back the Work of proclaiming that gospel message in all the world, for a witness to all nations.
   At first, Christ led all the Work through me and my wife, alone. After a while, I added a student stenographer half-time. Later a fulltime secretary; then more were added. As God also added to His Church, the need for an educated ministry became imperative. God started Ambassador College in Pasadena through me in 1947. There were birth pains, hardships, traumatic suffering and the usual opposition.
   Soon there were graduates from the College to assist me in doing the Work to which Christ called me, and which He is directing, leading and blessing. My son Garner Ted, three years old when the Church was first raised up and the Work started, grew up, became converted, and soon it became apparent by the fruits borne that God had raised him up as His number-two man, beside me, in His Church and in His Work.
   And still today, we are, primarily, doing the Work. But of course we need help! As one connected with the Work for fifteen years recently wrote: "All others have come into the Work, many as employees, for the sole purpose of helping the Armstrongs who are the living human heads [leadership] of God's Work, to help carry out the commission that has devolved on them. But, each of these individuals could be replaced."
   So today, many are having their part in this great Work of the living God.
   And, still today, we keep our eyes steadfast on the prime and central goal: Go ye into all the world... proclaiming the Kingdom of God, preparing the way for Christ's coming and the Kingdom.

   Today God is opening mighty doors, clear at the very top of many nations, for the proclaiming of the gospel message that has never reached those nations before.
   Today Garner Ted Armstrong broadcasts the message by radio and television, carries on personal appearance campaigns, gets out the gospel by writing as I do.
   Today, Christ's message is going out in power, in all the world — and, still today, under the leadership of the living Jesus Christ, the Head of God's Church.
   In closing, I want to express once again my deep, heartfelt appreciation to all of you whom God has called to share in accomplishing the Great Commission He has given to His end-time Church. We know you are behind Garner Ted and me, holding up our hands in proclaiming Christ's message to all the world as a witness.
   Let's never lose sight of the great goal. Let's push on harder than ever before to get the Work done!
   Jesus said, "I will build my church"! And He did build it! No one in the Christian world denies there is a true Church of which Jesus Christ is the Head somewhere on this earth right now! Many imagine that Church is to be found in the hearts and minds of multiple millions who may represent dozens of different "faiths." Others claim it is one great organized and political body. Others may feel it is a tiny sect. But can you prove which church is the true Church? There is proof available! In a new booklet, we present seven major proofs which represent incontrovertible evidence of where God's true Church, of which Jesus Christ is the literal living Head, is working on this earth today!
   A copy of this free booklet, titled Seven Proofs of God's True Church, can be obtained by simply clicking the link.

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Good News MagazineAugust 1975Vol XXIV, No. 8
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