Do you know WHY today's "Christianity" is so divided? Where is God's TRUTH being proclaimed? Read the startling answers in this important sequel to the series on the Reformation!
HUMAN ANNIHILATION is nearer than we think! In a world torn by strife and hatred, man has now devised several frightful ways by which he can DESTROY all living things! Year by year, this condition grows WORSE — not better! What is the meaning of these times? In his first inaugural address, President Eisenhower solemnly stated: "In the swift rush of great events, we find ourselves groping to know the full sense and meaning of the times in which we live.... How far have we come in man's long pilgrimage from darkness toward light? Are we nearing the light — a day of freedom and peace for all mankind? Or are the shadows of another night closing in upon us?... Science seems ready to confer upon us, as its final gift, THE POWER TO ERASE HUMAN LIFE FROM THIS PLANET." Yes, the EXTINCTION of all life is at hand! UNLESS God intervenes, we are headed for a time of darkness so much blacker than the Dark Ages that there can be no comparison! The results clearly indicate that men do NOT know the way to bring peace to the world. We are living in a so-called "Christian" western world. Yet it is a world CUT OFF from God, groping in the dark, living under the constant threat of world suicide! Why has our "Christianity" utterly FAILED to halt the mounting wave of personal crime among individuals — and international GANGSTERISM among many of the world's leaders? Why do the organized church denominations have no real answer to these problems?
Has God FORSAKEN His People?
Fearful of the imminent use of horrifying weapons of mass destruction, many people are wondering: "Has God forsaken us?" The answer is that we have forsaken God. And we have forsaken Him FAR MORE than most of you even begin to realize! Nearly two thousand years ago Jesus Christ came to this earth with a message from God the Father. He preached the good news of the kingdom — or government — of God (Mark 1:14). He also came to found His Church. Jesus said, "I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Mat. 16:18). Notice that Jesus did not say "churches" but Church — ONE Church. He called it the "little flock" (Luke 12:32). Jesus taught His followers to obey God's spiritual law contained in the Ten Commandments. He said: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Mat. 5:19). Setting an example of perfect obedience to God's laws, Jesus told His disciples to become PERFECT in character as is God Himself (Mat. 5:48). Later, He warned His followers of ill treatment and persecution by the world. "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (John 16:2). But Jesus commanded His servants to continue preaching His message to the END of the age. Just before ascending to heaven, He commanded: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Mat. 28:19-20). What most people completely fail to realize is that the true servants of God were persecuted and were KILLED down through the ages for preaching Christ's message! God's truth was NEVER accepted by the world! Jesus had warned: "IF they have kept my saying (they crucified Him instead!) they will keep yours also" (John 15:20). Rather than believing and obeying Christ's message, this world has persecuted His servants and His true Church down to this day!
As we have proved in the Reformation articles, a startling CHANGE took place in nominal Christianity soon after the death of the original Apostles. PAGANISM was introduced into an apostate "Christianity," and God's TRUTH was stamped out by clever argument and political pressure and, when necessary, by physical force! We remember the historian Wharey's comment: "Christianity began already to wear the garb of heathenism" (Church History, p. 39). Hurlbut states: "The forms and ceremonies of paganism gradually crept into the worship. Some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals with change of name and worship" (The Story of the Christian Church, p. 79). You should realize that these heathen practices are STILL BEING OBSERVED by Catholic and Protestant Churches alike throughout the "Christian" world! Describing the development of this paganized Roman Catholic system, the historian Hurlbut comments: "The church gradually usurped power over the state, and the result was not Christianity but a more or less corrupt hierarchy controlling the nations of Europe, making the church mainly a political machine" (The Story of the Christian Church, p. 80). Do you readers realize that in spite of these startling admissions by their own church historians, most Protestant ministers still attempt to prove their historical descent from Christ and His Apostles through the Roman Catholic Church? As we saw last month, they called her their "mother" church! Yet, this apostate system had departed about AS FAR from the teaching and practice of Jesus Christ and His Apostles as it would seem possible to imagine! The historian Plummer directly acknowledges this fact: "And as soon as the revival of letters caused the contents of the New Testament and the teachings of the fathers to be known, it was seen that what passed for Christianity, at the close of the 15th century was scarcely recognized as such, when placed side by side of what we know of Christianity at the close of the apostolic age" (The Continental Reformation, p. 11). Remember that Jesus said: "I will build MY Church." In Ephesians 1:22 and other scriptures, Christ is described as the living HEAD of the true Church. Do you imagine that He was the Head of this apostate, paganized system, which had utterly departed from almost every remnant of His true teaching and practice? Would He cause His faithful, commandment-keeping Church to descend through this foul system?
Failure of the Reformation
We found in the Reformation series that the early Protestant reformers — and their later followers — completely FAILED to recapture the faith and practice of Jesus and His Apostles. We learned how both Calvin and Luther came at various points of truth from a background of Roman Catholic rearing, training, and education. It seems that they found a few truths, only to introduce other peculiar errors of their own devising. And we found abundant historical records of how the early reformers cruelly persecuted those who disagreed with their teachings — even to the point of taking their lives! Perhaps the most basic reason why these early reformers and their Protestant followers have not been able to understand the spiritual truths of the Bible and to believe and practice the literal teachings of Jesus is one FALSE CONCEPT they have persistently maintained. They knew that Jesus said He would build His Church, and that it would not perish. Since they mistakenly felt that it would be a BIG, ORGANIZED, DENOMINATIONAL BODY, they immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Roman Catholic Church must be the connecting link between them and Jesus! Therefore, much of their reasoning was based upon the early "traditions" and practices of that church — which they assumed to have been untainted by human reason. They continually looked to the "early fathers" of this church for guidance on doctrinal questions. Remember that both Luther and Calvin were reared in Catholic homes, trained in Catholic schools, and educated for the Roman Catholic priesthood! They and their followers had grown up in a Catholic world. They were literally SATURATED with Catholic doctrines, concepts, and philosophies. As Almighty God shows in His word, they were spiritually drunk on the false doctrines of this paganized Catholic system! No wonder they didn't get back to the "faith once delivered"! They looked to the example of the early Catholic Church as to what that faith ought to be like. They could only see the present evils of the Catholic system in their own time. Little did they realize that the entire system was completely and TOTALLY cut off from God — from His Church — from His guidance! Thus these Protestant reformers — and their later followers — have FAILED to restore the true MESSAGE of Jesus Christ to this earth! They have only introduced more religious confusion than already existed! So God has been forced to label the whole system "Babylon the Great" — or great confusion! Today's world, then, remains in almost total ignorance of Christ's real message — of the purpose of God, of the laws of God, of the meaning of the prophesied events, which are being rapidly fulfilled at this very moment! But could this fantastic worldwide deception actually be possible? Could this be God's will?
CORRECTION: In introductory sections of two recent installments of Mr. Meredith's thesis on the PROTESTANT REFORMATION it was stated that Martin Luther translated Romans 1:17 "The just shall live by faith alone." This was an oversight and not part of the original thesis. Luther's insertion of the word "alone" is actually found in Romans 3:28.
A Counterfeit "Christianity" Prophesied!
Our modern religious CONFUSION was prophesied hundreds of years ago in the Bible itself! Jesus Christ warned that many false preachers would come in His name — but would DECEIVE the people by a false message. He said: "For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive MANY" (Mat. 24:5). Yes, hundreds of differing denominations have appropriated to themselves the name of Jesus Christ — but they have denied His message, and they have substituted PAGANISM with its beliefs and practices for His way of life! And they have deceived the MANY — not the few! The Apostle Paul was inspired to warn of this great falling away from the Truth: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; AND THEY SHALL TURN AWAY THEIR EARS FROM THE TRUTH, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Tim. 4: 3-4). Paul knew that after His death and that of the other Apostles, the false ministers would come in with all of their heathen practices, heathen religious festivals, and pagan philosophies. He knew that the world would be turned from the truth to fables — fairy tales! He warned of men in the last days, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (II Tim. 3:5). Paul knew that at the end of this age men would cease to recognize God as a POWER in world affairs to be reckoned with — and that they would deny His authority in their individual lives. The modern "form" of a so-called Christianity is a PAGANIZED form! On the outside of the package it is labeled "Christianity." But inside are contained the old pagan philosophies, traditions, heathen festivals, practices, and false concepts of God and the way of God. Today's "Christianity" is totally DIFFERENT from the Christianity of Jesus Christ! Many recognized church historians admit this fact — seemingly oblivious of the tremendous import of what they are saying.
This Is a Deceived World!
A recognized and respected scholar, Dr. Rufus Jones, states: "If by any chance Christ himself had been taken by His later followers as a model and a pattern of the new way, and a serious attempt had been made to set up His life and teaching as the standard and norm for the Church, Christianity would have been something VASTLY DIFFERENT from what it became." (The Churches Debt to Heretics, p. 16). Dr. Jones, a Protestant scholar, recognizes that Jesus' kind of Christianity is not being practiced in our modern world today! Let us candidly inquire: What is wrong with JESUS' kind of Christianity? Did Jesus Christ know what Christianity ought to be like? Just who DOES have the authority to set the standards for Christianity? The real answer to this dilemma is that Christ Himself prophesied that the world would be DECEIVED by Satan the devil and his false ministers. We find Satan described as "that old Serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the WHOLE WORLD" (Rev. 12:9). It seems hard to believe but the Bible says this whole WORLD has been deceived! Speaking of the Babylonish false religious system which developed during the Middle Ages, the Apostle John says in Revelation: "The inhabitants of the world have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication" (Rev. 17:2). Through the spiritual wine — or false doctrines — of this paganized system, the inhabitants of this entire EARTH have been made spiritually DRUNK! Because of this spiritual confusion — this spiritual drunkenness — most people on earth today are not able to see spiritual things clearly. They are like a drunken man with blurry vision when they try to read the Bible. It doesn't make sense. They get confused. They may ask their minister — but usually only get an evasive answer or pretty platitude, which doesn't really answer the deep spiritual question in their heart. The Bible just doesn't seem to make SENSE to people. They don't understand it. They don't understand the theme in its laws and teachings — and they certainly don't understand the prophecies of the Bible!
Satan's Counterfeit of the Truth
Almighty God has permitted Satan the devil to implant his religion in the minds of men here on earth. He started doing that clear back at the tower of Babel. He continued it through the ancient Chaldean mystery system developed by Nimrod and his harlot-wife, Semiramis. That system has spread over all the world so that many of the same customs and practices of our so-called western "Christianity" are found in varying forms among the Orientals and the pagan idolaters of the far-flung tropical islands! This same Chaldean mystery system — with its pagan philosophies, its pagan religious holidays and symbols — was brought by stealth into many of the early Christian church congregations. Carnal-minded church leaders accepted this paganism which the natural mind of man seems to love so much. They pretended it was Christianity — and forced it into an apostate Christianity they were beginning to develop out of those congregations and individuals who did not wish to keep intact the way and truth of God. This heathen mystery system finally took over COMPLETELY in the early Catholic Church until it became, as we have seen, simply "baptized paganism." When the Protestant reformers were little children, they grew up as part of this system. They were taught it by their parents, friends, and teachers. They believed in it, and were even trained for its priesthood! Both Luther and Calvin later denied that they had withdrawn from the historic Catholic Church! This was because they felt that it was God's Church! Its basic tenets and practices they left UNCHANGED. And even without realizing it, the pagan philosophies and false concepts of God imparted by this system, guided and influenced the development of Protestant religious teachings and outlook. Now, in this age, YOU have grown up supposing that all these churches are God's Churches. You have probably thought: How can all these churches be wrong? They CAN be wrong, because God says: "For ALL nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" (Rev. 18:3). Yes, ALL nations have been made spiritually drunk through Satan's deception coming down through the ancient Babylonish mystery system, into Roman Catholicism, and since to our modern Protestantism! Truly, Satan HAS deceived "the whole world"! The Bible MEANS what it says more than we have realized. May God help you see this TRUTH! You are not going to have long to debate about it, frankly, because we are nearing the END of this age of man going his own ways on earth. Perhaps the absolutely real threat of HUMAN ANNIHILATION will force some of you to face spiritual REALITIES in a way that you have never been willing to do before!! God grant that it may be so before it is too late! If you are willing to admit that you may have been wrong, then, what should you do?
What You Should Do
First of all, you should review what was brought out about Christ and His Church in the first part of this article. Jesus said; "I will build MY Church" (Mat. 16:18). He did not say many churches — but only indicated one Church — His Church! He called that Church the "little flock." He said they would be scattered and persecuted. Recall that in John 15:20, He said that they would not keep to the truth of His Church, or accept it any more than they had accepted Jesus' own teachings. And they crucified Jesus Christ! Remember that Jesus taught OBEDIENCE to God's Law based on the Ten Commandments (Mat. 5:17-19, 19:17). He told His servants to continue preaching that same message. He commanded them to go into all nations: "Teaching them to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Mat. 28:20). In His revelation to John, Christ described the last-generation remnant of His Church as those people, "which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17). He describes His persecuted saints as follows: "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the COMMANDMENTS of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Rev. 14:12). If you want to know the TRUTH, if you want to be protected from the hellish times of world cataclysm that lie just ahead, then you had better seek for and find that Church! You had better find the true Church of God — the only Church Jesus built — the Church of which He is the living Head! Has there been a small, scattered, persecuted Church which keeps all of God's Commandments and which Jesus Christ is using as His "body" today in doing His work in preaching His gospel to the world? Yes! There has been and is. But first you need to prove this — and then you need to do something about it!
Proofs of God's Church
All of the Scriptures already mentioned should apply to God's true Church — not just part of them. And God's Church will be keeping all ten of the Ten Commandments contained in God's spiritual law. You need to be especially sure of this point, and study your Bible to find out more about God's law yourself! For, as we have seen, the true Church is commonly identified as that people "which keep the commandments of God." Another thing to bear in mind in regard to the true Church being scattered and persecuted is that you can't "join" that Church like you would some social club! In New Testament times, people were only considered members of God's Church after they had obeyed the inspired command: "REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). So you have to repent of your sins and of your entire rebellious, self-willed way of life before God will put you into His Church! After repentance and baptism, you are to practice — as we have seen — obedience to God's law as a way of life. You are to live by EVERY word of God and to follow the literal example and teaching of Jesus Christ. Another outstanding characteristic of God's Church is its willingness to admit error and to change. Each human is commanded to change — to GROW in grace and in knowledge (II Pet. 3:18). Since the Church is only the sum total of its members, it, too, must continually be willing to repent if there is some minor error God has permitted to creep in, and to grow in grace and in knowledge. Therefore, the true Church will be a Church continually GROWING into new truth and knowledge and understanding! Its members will "hunger and thirst" after righteousness (Mat. 5:6). Because of this humble, repentant, yielded attitude, it will be filled with love and zeal and a continually deeper UNDERSTANDING of God's will and of the meaning of Bible prophecies in relation to the times in which we live. These things are so because God's Church is yielded to and led by His Spirit! And Jesus said: "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you INTO all truth" (John 16:13). Only God's true Church, really has these characteristics! And therefore ONLY God's true Church is filled with the knowledge, the understanding, and the love of His Spirit!
The Name of God's Church
In addition to being a small persecuted Church kept completely separate from the pagan doctrines, religious holidays, and heathen philosophies fostered by "mother" Rome, and in addition also to the fact that it keeps all ten of the Ten Commandments of God, and that it has the right spiritual attitude and willingness to repent, to change, to grow — the true Church should also have the name God intended His Church to bear as one of its identifying signs. God's true Church was NEVER named after some religious leader, or some particular doctrine, or some type of church government or method of doing things! The Scriptural teaching shows that it was always named after God Himself! It is His Church. He owns it. He possesses it. He rules it — through His Son Jesus Christ who is also God, and a member of God's kingdom. Therefore, in twelve places in the New Testament it is called "The Church of God." In Acts 20:28, Paul told the Ephesian elders to feed "the Church of God" as he was speaking to them, perhaps for the last time. Both of the letters to the Corinthian Church are addressed to "the Church of God, which is at Corinth." Speaking of the Church congregations collectively, Paul writes to the Thessalonians: "For ye, brethren, became followers of the Churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus" (I Thes. 2:14). In EVERY case when the title is given in any official sense, the name for the Church is "The Church of God." That is the inspired NAME of God's Church! However, since most churches have at least a few points of truth, some of them have falsely appropriated to themselves the name "Church of God." But they are NOT His Church because they do not keep His commandments, do not have His Spirit, and are not doing His work.
Find Out Where God is WORKING
Just as important as having the correct name and possessing the other characteristics we have discussed, the true Church must be doing the work of God on earth today! It must be preaching Christ's true message — His commandments — His way of life. It must be preparing the way for God's kingdom — or government — to come and rule this earth before man destroys himself. This Church is the one, which will be warning the peoples and nations of the world of the specific PUNISHMENTS, which Almighty God is already beginning to mete out. God's true Church, then, will really UNDERSTAND and proclaim the warning messages contained in Bible prophecy as God's last witness to a rebellious world! Do you know where to find that Church? You are now READING one of the warning messages from the true Church of God — the body of Christ — the instrument God is using to preach His message! If you do not already know, the day will come when you WILL know that THIS IS THE WORK OF GOD'S TRUE CHURCH! The message now being proclaimed around this earth on "The World Tomorrow" broadcast and in the PLAIN TRUTH magazine is the work of the Church Jesus Christ built — and of which He is the living, executive Head! For over twenty-five years, the work of this Church has grown in power. We have been daring, as NO OTHER CHURCH on earth, to proclaim definite, specific prophetic events to occur — and they have been HAPPENING! So that some may repent and be spared, God is using this Church to warn the peoples of this world of their mounting SINS before He intervenes to PUNISH and to send the seven last plagues just prior to Christ's second coming. God help YOU to understand and to heed this warning! Have you noticed that this magazine, and "The World Tomorrow" broadcast are both sponsored by the Radio Church of God? That is because this Church is GOD'S Church! He is using it to do His work. And so it carries His name! It is not the Church of God at Corinth — or any particular place. Nor is its main effort in scattered Churches of God in some area like Judea, as Paul called the Churches there. Rather, God is now using it primarily as an evangelistic instrument over RADIO and then through the printed page. So this Church is called the Radio Church of God. For those who are converted members, it is spoken of in a spiritual sense as just the "Church of God." And it IS just that! For no other Church on earth can rightly claim this name!
Take HEED to the Truth!
The warning MESSAGE of God's Church is being fulfilled daily! Scoffers will not have long to scoff! For the specific prophesied events which this Church alone proclaims will soon be demonstrated as a physical REALITY! There will be no reasoning or argument about this. You will SEE and FEEL these things happen! The REASON God has allowed today's religious confusion is so that after 6000 years of human misrule — bringing us now to the verge of WORLD SUICIDE — man might at last "have enough" of his own ways, his own political schemes, his own religious theories. After a time of great punishment which he has brought on himself, man will at last be really willing to learn of God's ways and laws, and to accept His rule through Jesus Christ so the world can at last have peace! God's Church has NEVER had many different names, doctrines, and practices. He has only permitted this "Babylon" of religious confusion to develop so that man might be able — under Satan's deceiving influence — to try out every conceivable type of religious theory he might lust after. This is so that man might — in plain language — once and for all get his "belly full" of the foolish ideas and reasonings of carnal, human, erring MEN. Then, perhaps, he will be willing to obey GOD! Now you know why there exists such religious confusion. Now you know WHICH is the true Church of God! This is YOUR life! May the Almighty give you an open mind to further prove and believe His TRUTH! That truth is given in abundance every month in this magazine. Study these articles. Look up the scripture references in your own Bible. Listen to "The World Tomorrow" broadcast regularly, and check up in the same way in your Bible. Read every booklet that is mentioned. They are all free! Pray for UNDERSTANDING, and for a willing heart! Be sure to OBEY the truth as you prove each point. This is the most important business of your life! The END of this age is very near!