Well greetings friends. This is Herbert W Armstrong with the Good News of the World Tomorrow.
Did you ever wonder which is the One True Church today? Or is there any that is the One True Church? Jesus Christ had said; "...I will build my church..." (Matthew 16:18). Today we have hundreds and hundreds of different sects and denominations in our western world, and, of course, we have many, many different religions in other parts of the world.
Now Christ didn't say that He was going to build many denominations, but He said He would build a Church, one Church. Where is it today? In the New Testament you find a prophecy of two different churches, or church groups, professing Christians. One great and powerful, politically organized, a part of this world. And you find it described in the seventeenth chapter of Revelation. The other you find described in the twelfth chapter of Revelation.
But now this worldly church of many denominations all divided between themselves, the entire family and they're called apostate in this prophecy of many denominations all divided against each other and in confusion of doctrines, and yet all united in certain chief pagan doctrines. All united in certain pagan things, but all divided as to what the Bible says, and none of them observing some of the main things in the Bible.
Mystery Babylon the Great And they are given a name; God Almighty gives them a name; "...MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT..." (Revelation 17:5). You'll find that in verse five of the seventeenth chapter of Revelation. Now this name Babylon means confusion. God always names people or things what they are, and here is the same identical ancient Babylonian mysteries incorporated into this name.
Now they have taken up many of the ancient Babylonian customs, many of the ancient pagan or heathen beliefs. Actually celebrating a festival, doing away with a festival that God had given His people, a festival that Jesus Christ observed; a festival that the apostle Paul taught the Gentile converts to observe. And turning back to the very things that the Gentiles were observing before Paul came along, but which the apostle Paul had taught all the Christian converts to give up. Going back to; "...the mystery of iniquity..." (II Thessalonians 2:7), that the apostle Paul had said, in the second chapter of II Thessalonians, was already working, even in his day.
You find that in the New Testament, my friends, you don't find a prophecy that the Church that Christ formed was to grow great, and large, and powerful in the world. And to take a great part in politics of this world, and to encourage people to vote for this or that or the other party, trying to control or to influence the politics of the world. Nothing of that sort at all. But rather you find that the True Church was to become divided, scattered, persecuted and driven apart by the world. But you do find, my friends, a great false church to be wedded to the world, a part of the world, ruling over the world, or at least attempting to. And indulging in the world's politics, the world's business and all of the affairs of this world.
Jesus Christ had said: "...My kingdom is not of this world... (John 18:36). Well then, what has happened? The apostle Paul had said:
"...we beseech you, brethren [here in the second chapter of II Thessalonians], by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand [now he's talking about the coming of Christ, the coming of Christ back to this earth again, then he said]. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there [be] a falling away first [then he said here in verse seven]...the mystery of iniquity doth already work..." (II Thessalonians 2:1-3;7)
Right there in the time of Paul, when Paul was writing this very letter to the Thessalonians. The mystery of iniquity. Now it is a mystery, it was called the Chaldean mysteries, or the old Babylonian mysteries. That's what it was called. Now if you notice here in some of Paul's letters where he said that, "...they would be turned away from the truth and turned unto fables." (II Timothy 4:4 paraphrased). In these latter days in his message to Timothy, for instance, and in II Timothy the fourth chapter, he charged Timothy to:
"Preach the word [of God, not fables and other things, but the word of God]; to keep at it in season, and out of season; to rebuke, to exhort with all long suffering [or patience that is] and doctrine. 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 Timothy 4:2-4 paraphrased)
That's in your Bible. That is II Timothy the fourth chapter and the fourth verse. Now in the third chapter of this same prophecy;
"This know also, that in the last days [that's the days we're living in now in the twentieth century] perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers...[and so on] trucebreakers...despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded...[and then in verse five] Having a form of godliness [in other words church services with pomp and ceremony, much of the form, much of the form of godliness], but denying the power thereof [what does he say to do? Go join that sort of thing? Does he say stay in it if you're already in it? No, he says]: from such turn away." (II Timothy 3:1-5)
That's verse five of the third chapter of II Timothy. That's inspired by God Almighty. That's in your Bible. Now then, of this worldly group, they are named after the very mysteries of Babylon which they have adopted, and which have become the very foundation of their doctrines, of their teachings and of their beliefs. Mystery Babylon the Great. There it is in Revelation 17 and verse five.
The Church Christ Founded Now, once again, let's get back the Church that Jesus Christ did found, because it has always existed through every generation. That Church has had its ups and downs, that Church has been persecuted. Why you read right here in the book of Acts of the beginning of the persecution. In the eighth chapter of Acts, very early in the history of the New Testament Church just up here in the eighth chapter, where Saul before he became the apostle Paul, consenting to the death here of Stephen:
"...And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles." (Acts 8:1)
My friends, that's been the history of the True Church, and much of the time it has not been known or recognized by the world. Most people today look at the church as a great powerful thing. I suppose most people believe that the prophecies of the New Testament showed that the church was to become great and powerful, that it was to make this world a better world. Oh no, my friends, Jesus Christ said: "...My kingdom is not of this world..." (John 18:36)
He never tried to make this world a better world. He came preaching a different doctrine and calling His disciples out of the world. And in His last prayer for the Church, He prayed that God would keep them from the world. He didn't pray that they wouldn't be in the world, because He knew they had to be in the world. In fact His commission to them was: "...Go...into...the world, and preach the gospel..." (Mark 16:15)
But the Bible teaching is that a Christian is to go into the world and preach the gospel as an ambassador for Christ. Now the United States sends an ambassador over to Russia, but is he a part of Russia? He's in it. The President of the United States will say to the ambassador; "I want you to go into Russia and represent us there, and look after our interests there." Just like Christ said, "Go into the world and represent Me and My Kingdom, and look after My interests, and become My instrument, and I will work through you." Now the Ambassador to Russia is the instrument of the United States, he bears some of the authority of the United States. And the Ambassador for Christ bears some of the authority of Jesus Christ and of God Almighty. But he's merely in this world as a representative of Christ, not having any part of it. Now Christ had said here in His final prayer:
"...I have given...them the words [that] thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee [and so on]. I pray for them [He said]: I pray not for the world [Jesus Christ didn't even pray for the world. What about churches that are OF the world, that are IN the world, that are a part of the world then? Christ didn't pray for them], but for them [that] thou hast given me..." (John 17:8-9).
Now He said down here in verse fifteen it is:
"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world [no, because He sent them into the world as His representatives], but that thou [wouldest] keep them from the evil." (John 17:15)
The Deceitfulness of Human Nature In other words, all of the evil of the world, and the evil predominates in the world. Now what is the world? Why the world is merely the system of society that people have set up on this earth. There are two words in the Greek language in which the New Testament was written that are translated 'world', and one of them is 'kosmos'. K-o-s-m-o-s, I believe it is, kosmos; which means the system or the pattern of society that men have set up. Now it's the way that looks good to men, but you also read in Romans the eighth chapter that a natural born mind of man seems to think that God is all wrong. It doesn't agree with God. The mind of man and the nature of man sees things in a different way than the laws of God. And, as it says there:
"...it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." (Romans 8:7)
Consequently, what God says is good, man will think is bad. And what God calls evil, man will think is alright and pretty good. And so, man has done what he thought was right, oh yes. At least if a man does wrong he manages to convince himself it's right. Listen, my friends, we thought Adolph Hitler was the arch-criminal of all the ages, didn't we? We thought that in the United States, and we built ourselves up to believe that.
Do you think the Germans believed that at that time? Do you think that Hitler himself believed it? Do you suppose that Hitler thought; 'I am the arch-criminal of the ages. Watch me serve the Devil, watch me go out and see how much evil I can do'? Why, no. If you know anything about psychology you would know Hitler didn't have any such thoughts. Hitler had managed to deceive his own self into believing that he was a man of destiny. Into believing that it was right, and that it was good that he should conquer America, and he should conquer the British, and he should make the German people over all. 'Deutschland όber alles' as they used to say. Why he believed that was the good thing to do. He had himself convinced that that was right.
Now we know how diabolical it was of course, but he didn't. Now to a great extent Adolf Hitler was deceived. I don't know whether he was in the beginning but he finally wound up that way.
You know, my friends, when you're wrong, and in the wrong, you've got to do one of two things about it. If you know you're wrong, you've either got to admit it and confess it and turn away from it and get it off your conscience, or you've got to try to justify it. And the minute you try to excuse and justify, and you try to explain to other people that what you've been doing was right why pretty soon you get to believing it was right.
Now you've done that with little things your own self, you know you have. Many times you've been wrong about something but you didn't want to admit it. Well maybe you don't do that any more now you're grown up. Maybe you just did that when you were a child growing up. Well, unless you have really repented and been conquered by God Almighty and been converted and become a real Christian, I think you are still doing it. I don't think very many of you have overcome it now, have you? I don't believe you have.
Well, you try to explain how what you did was right because you don't want other people to think it was wrong. You've either got to do that or admit it was wrong. And admitting that you have been wrong is the most difficult thing in this world, on the earth to do. Why that's almost impossible for most people, most people never do it. Now Adolph Hitler never admitted he was wrong, he got himself to believing it was right.
Now that is what this 'kosmos' is. That's the system in this world. Now another word for 'world' in the New Testament in the Greek language is 'aion' and that merely means 'age', but it is a time. God Almighty has set a time limit, He's given a certain amount of time for mankind to work out his own ideas. And God made man a free moral agent, and God said to man:
"I have set before you the right way and the wrong. The way that will lead to happiness, and the way that will lead to unhappiness and suffering." (Deuteronomy 30:15-19 paraphrased)
The way that will lead to eternal life, and the way that will lead to death. But God said to mankind; "You must choose". God commanded man to choose right. But the very fact that God said; "choose" means God allows man to choose wrong. Now human nature is a mixture of good and evil, but the evil usually dominates. And there is enough good in man that he likes to just deceive himself into thinking he is good all over.
Of course you know, and you read the I was going to say a fairy story, but we don't call them fairy stories, we call little children's stories fairy stories, but they're fairy stories these fiction stories that you read, grown up people read. Anyway, did you ever notice that in all this fiction that men write out of their imagination, supposed to represent life, that the hero is always absolutely perfect. There is nothing wrong with him whatsoever. He is all good, just good through and through.
And the heroine, oh she is just good through and through, nothing but good. She's always pretty too, she's got to be or people wouldn't look at it, you know. Do you ever see a real ugly old hag of a woman try to get to be an ingιnue or a movie star? No, not unless it's just some old woman character actress. But they've got to be pretty and they've just got to be good all the way through.
And then the villain, oh boy, he knows he's wrong, he's just out to see how much harm and evil he can do. You know that's absolutely contrary to human nature. We don't have people running around like that. There is so much good in the worst of us, and there is just so much bad in the best of us too. And that's a fact.
And there is only one way to get rid of the bad and that is to confess it, to admit it, and to come to God by and through Jesus Christ, because He paid the penalty for all of that bad. And God is able to erase it, and the blood of Christ is capable of cleansing us through the power of the Holy Spirit of all sins. And you can be cleansed of it. But it takes a greater power and a greater strength than you possess to do it. It takes the power of God. How many people have ever confessed it and have ever come to realize and recognize that they are their own worst enemy? And asked God to simply to control, and to conquer everything that is wrong and evil against them, because they're not strong enough to do it in their own power and in their own strength? Not very many, and that means there aren't very many real Christians in the world too.
The True Church of God Well Jesus Christ said: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world...[of course not, He said; to go into the world, He says] They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:15-16)
And He said: "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36)
It wasn't of this time either, it's of the time to come, the world tomorrow, when Christ will come again and rule all nations with a rod of iron.
Well let's get on with this now, this True Church. The True Church of God is pictured in prophecy as a little flock, not a great and powerful political organization. And the New Testament describes the Church as continually persecuted and despised by the world, because it is not of this world or of its politics, or its business or its society. And it has kept itself unspotted from the world.
It always has kept the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. And it has kept God's Festivals and not the pagan holidays that the world and the world's churches are observing. That Church has always existed, but where did it go and why isn't it recognized? And if you were to look for the Church that Jesus founded and to try to trace it through history, you'd have to know what to look for first. And people have not known what to look for. They thought they must look for the great visible organizations.
But the True Church of God is an invisible, spiritual organism of those people that have, and are led by, the Spirit of God, in whom Jesus Christ has come to live His life for them. That's the True Church, composed of all those people; regardless of whether they are organized together, know each other, and are working together, or whether they are not. Whether they assemble in one place, or whether they are completely scattered. It is those individuals that make up the True Church.
Now in many times we find their history on down through every century and at times they've been completely scattered and not organized. At other times, at least a large portion of them, or groups of them, have gotten together and they have been organized and they have known one another. And they have actually been organized and conducted God's work.
And at the time when God intends that His work should be carried forth to the world, God does bring them together and see that they are organized. Now there is a prophecy for the Church in this latter day. And let me tell you I haven't time, I'm sort of jumping over ahead of myself a little bit here but it is in the third chapter of the book of Revelation. And there it says that the Church, the True Church, that Jesus Christ Himself built in this day, would be organized. But it would be very small and very weak, so far as physical strength is concerned, but strong in spiritual power and strength. And that God Himself would open a door that the gospel could go forth to the world. And that Church is the one that would be proclaiming the true gospel, the gospel that Jesus preached to the world.
The True Church Survives Through History What did the world do? They not only rejected Christ, they rejected His gospel. And then later they accepted Christ and received Him that is His person but they still rejected His gospel. And so they formulated their own gospel about the person of Christ, deifying and exalting Christ in person; but: "...teaching for doctrines [these traditions] of men." (Matthew 15:9)
And the Babylonian Mysteries. And that's where your Christmas and Easter and all of those things are coming in. They are not Christian. They are not founded on the Bible. They are founded on ancient paganism and yet, my friends, all of us have been born into a world and brought up doing those things. And just like Adolf Hitler finally believed he was right so we have come to believe that we are right. And most of us don't have the fortitude and the spiritual courage to look into it, to see if we could be wrong, and if the world could be wrong.
Can all the world stray away from God? Well my friends, it has done just that, and most of you right along with it. It's only the few that have come to Christ. Jesus Christ Himself said, and you know it if you know your Bible; that there is a broad road -it's glittering and it's attractive that leads to destruction: "...and many go in [therein] thereat [but what did He say of the true road?]: strait is the way, and narrow is the gate, that leads to everlasting life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14 paraphrased).
That's in your Bible. Do you believe the Bible or do you believe pagan superstitions? I tell you, my friends, it's time to wake up. All the world, according to your Bible prophecy, is deceived today and drunk on false spiritual doctrines and so spiritually bleary eyed, it can't see the truth. All out of focus and can't see the truth.
Well now you don't read much about this true body of Christ in secular histories of this world. No, the world pays little attention, and it doesn't long remember the activities of this little flock, that is hated and despised by the world. The world's historians don't make much note of it. Driven out into the wilderness by persecution, as it has been through the past centuries, always opposed, usually scattered. But there are enough references to it in authentic history to show that it has continued throughout every century until now.
I think it must have been about a year ago, or perhaps just a little more, perhaps a year and a half ago, I gave you quite a little of the history of that Church on this program on the air. The prophecies bring this Church into concrete focus in the twelfth chapter of Revelation. And, as you see, the false churches that are deceived and are deceiving the world, in the seventeenth chapter of Revelation. Pictured as harlots and in harlotry, having fornication, or that is, political relationship with the kings of this world, when Christ said; "...My kingdom is not of this world..." (John 18:36).
So you find the True Church in the twelfth chapter of Revelation and there it's persecuted and there it's forced to flee to the wilderness. Many are martyred; "...they loved not their lives unto death" (Revelation 12:11), it says in that chapter. There this Church is shown spiritually in the glory and the splendor of the Spirit of God, but visibly in the world as a persecuted commandment keeping Church. And it says, these are they that:
"...[have the commandments of God or] keep the commandments of God, and have the [faith] of Jesus..." (Revelation 12:17 )
Driven into the wilderness for 1260 years, through the Middle Ages, as they were. And even in Paul's day, many among those attending at Antioch, at Jerusalem, at Ephesus, at Corinth and other places began to apostatize and to turn away from the truth. Division sprang up, and those individuals unconverted or turned from God's truth and way of life were no part of God's True Church, though visibly assembling with those who were. The mystery of iniquity was already working, as the apostle Paul wrote in II Thessalonians, the second chapter, and it was working inside the visible churches. This apostasy increased and by the year of 125 AD the majority in most churches now, the majority assembling for services in most churches.
And incidentally, they still assembled on the Sabbath day, believe it or not. That's the day we call Saturday, that's the day we spit at today and call 'the Jewish Sabbath'. But you can't find any such expression in your Bible, and sometime some of you people are going to wake up and find that you've been spitting on something that God calls His, and that God calls Holy. And some of you had better begin to wake up and think seriously of these things and realize you could have been misled. My friends, I had to come to that acknowledgment. The hardest thing that ever I faced in all my life, over 50 years ago, something that I fought as far as I could.
Now gradually a smaller and a smaller portion of the visible churches going by the name Christian, remained truly yielded to God and to His truth and led by His Spirit. And after Emperor Constantine took virtual control of the visible professing church, in the early fourth century, the visible organization became almost wholly pagan, and they began excommunicating and persecuting all who held to the true Word of God, the Bible.
And finally, it became necessary for all real Christians, even though as a scattered people, it became necessary for them to flee. And they, the ones that were led by the Spirit of God the ones in whom Jesus Christ was living His life in them they alone composed the True Church, and they had to flee from the jurisdiction of the government in order to truly worship God. That's what's happened, my friends, to the Church.
But God still has His ministers. God still has His Church. I want to tell you that God's truth is still written in the pages of your Bible. If you'll blow the dust off of it, and look at it as it is, instead of believing everything that has been read into it to justify these ways that are wrong.
Listen, Adolf Hitler wouldn't admit he was wrong. I want to ask you this; do you know any organized church denomination that has ever come out and publicly admitted that it was wrong, and that it had not understood the Bible? Have you ever known a one? And what is a church? It's a group of ordinary human beings, that's all. And if every individual must be willing to admit he's wrong, so as a group organized they have to, because they're no better. If one man is going to make mistakes, and it's human to make them, it's human for all of us together to make a mistake. Where you find the true Church of God, you'll find a Church that is willing to admit as a Church it's been wrong and to correct its errors.
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