Dear Ministers at home and in the field, and brethren at home:
Today, June 16th, 1956, is a historical day in the working out of God's purpose here below. Today the Church of God in London, England, became a reality. Today marks the first Sabbath service of the true Church which Christ built to be held in England or Europe, so far as I know, for probably hundreds of years, or since the early days of the Sardis Church in England.
Today, therefore, marks another big milestone of PROGRESS in the work God is doing thru us in these dynamic closing days of this world.
We now have a Church, small though it is, in England. This has been a day of thanksgiving and rejoicing for us over here — and I feel that this news is cause for rejoicing in your hearts as well. This evening we went back to Dennison Hall, where the meetings have been held, to be shown the smaller room they had made available as the regular Sabbath meeting-place of the Church. It's in the same building but on the first floor, whereas the hall we have been using was a half-flight down. The new room will seat 40 or 50 people, is much nicer, has more sunlight, and the floor is carpeted. We were all more than pleased with it. The location is central, and as good as any in London.
Ted wrote about the very small attendance at the meetings. There were 55 the first night, but as I got into the really "strong meat" attendance dropped off to around 30. But this was somewhat deliberately planned. No public announcement was made — no effort to draw a large audience. We sent letters to those who have listened to Radio Luxembourg and who have read The PLAIN TRUTH for several months. We invited ONLY those who already have received, and survived what I normally would have preached during the first two to four weeks of a public evangelistic campaign. As a result, I launched immediately into subjects like Law and Grace, the Sabbath Resurrection after three days and three nights in the tomb, ending with the JOLT that this truth shatters the last possible excuse for Sunday observance. That, I believe, was over a week ago, before Ted and Shirley arrived, and everyone knew we were then going to preach on the true New Testament Sabbath. We went directly into Law and Grace — the difference between the Spiritual Law, and the Rituals and Sacrifices of the Law of Moses. Then I devoted a sermon to going thru Scriptures showing every one of the Ten Commandments in full force and effect — and SIN to transgress — between Adam and Moses. Ted spoke on Law and Grace, and Dick on WHICH is the TRUE CHURCH, and then I spoke in strongest terms on the Sabbath.
I announced several nights ago that there would be a Sabbath service today. There were 16 there today (not counting any of us — and no children came at any time — all adults).
However, I know of a few who were unable to come today on such short notice, but who, I think and pray, will refuse to continue their work on the Sabbaths, and will be regular members. I suppose there may have been a very few there today who will not be actual members — but I'm sure we shall have a regular membership, to start, of between 15 and 20, and more likely at least 20.
One man who has been coming introduced himself to me at the close of this morning's service as the pastor of the oldest and headquarters Seventh-Day Baptist Church here. He was very friendly — invited us to his afternoon service. He probably does not, as yet, see any doctrinal differences between us, as of course he would if he continued to come. He came because one of his members received our letter, and showed it to him. Undoubtedly his real object in coming was to see what we had, and to "protect" his own flock from our "false preaching" if he discovered it. His presence became an immediate problem, for we knew he probably would continue to come, get acquainted with our people, and try to draw them to his church. We have solved this, we hope, by setting the time of the meetings here for Sabbath afternoons. Since he holds his services afternoons, he will be unable to come.
One couple coming were really "Pentecostal." They were more outspokenly and joyously (apparently and outwardly) accepting everything preached than any of the others. But, true to form, they went along with obvious zeal UNTIL a truth hit them, as it did on Thursday night while Dick was preaching. This old man began shouting "pentecost", and interfering with the sermon. Dick with- stood him firmly and strongly, and he finally had to be silenced. At the door, after the service, he said something to me about speaking in tongues. I told him that the Holy Spirit of God DOES speak in foreign languages thru those of HIS CHURCH — when it serves GOD'S PURPOSE — and does give His true servants the gift of speaking in foreign languages, WHEN it is for edification, and carrying out Christ's commission — but that we denounce, and stand unmovable and totally OPPOSE this modern EMOTIONAL and LUSTFUL gibberish and "pentecostalism" falsely so called, and will not tolerate it in our midst. He got excited, raised his voice, went out, and has not come back — which is the result I intended to bring about by what I said. Best to weed out the trouble-makers at the start, as far as God allows. This man would soon have driven away nearly every other new member. I've seen it happen time after time, and its FRUITS are those of the devil — and as long as God keeps me as Pastor of His Church, we shall not permit that fleshly and sensual counterfeit to rear its ugly head in our midst.
This would not be the true work of God unless we could see the activity of the devil trying to gain an entering wedge in this new Church at the outset. But God has certainly been with us, and protected us and given us wisdom, and the only possible sources of trouble detected so far have been already taken care of. I feel sure that God will use George Meeker to hold the fort, and hold this new little flock intact and secure as a good shepherd, and even build it up, before Dick returns in the fall. Frank Longuskie will be a good help to George in this. Also it will be very fine experience for George — his first responsibility as a pastorate, which he will have to carry until Dick's return. BUT even these little incidents should serve to show you all that WE NEED TO KEEP PRAYING FOR THIS NEW LITTLE FLOCK — THE CHURCH OF GOD IN LONDON!
Don't forget, or neglect, brethren — PRAY EVERY DAY for this work over here in general as a whole, and for this new flock in particular. They are in that "first love." Their faces show how happy they have been to receive this TRUTH, new to them. There is joy written all over their faces, and it comes from their HEARTS. But remember the parable of the sower and the seed — how many endured but a little while. THESE PEOPLE NEED YOUR PRAYERS! They will now meet persecution and real temptation for the first time.
Yes, this wonderful news of a new Church over here brings along with the rejoicing and the joy of it a STERN RESPONSIBILITY to all of us — for they are now fighting a new enemy, and they are not experienced in meeting his cunning wiles — SATAN the devil! They are now OUR BRETHREN overseas. It is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to hold them up in our prayers — to earnestly and incessantly INTER- CEDE for them — to pray constantly for their protection and spiritual growth.
I hope it is not disappointing to any of you that we didn't have a large crowd here. We didn't plan for a large crowd — in fact didn't want it. If we had advertised these meetings, attracted a large crowd, I should have had to avoid the subjects that resulted in this new Church, and in this amount of time could not have accomplished anything at all. OR, we should have had to carry on the campaign for not less than six weeks, and better, two months or three months — and even then, without the preliminary work done by the radio and The PLAIN TRUTH and literature, probably would not have wound up with any larger harvest than this. By planning it this way — inviting ONLY those already well along in truth and in interest, so I could get immediately into what normally would have been the LAST TWO WEEKS of a public campaign, we were able to harvest the FRUIT of a normal two months' every- night campaign. So I'm sure you see that God does give His servants wisdom, and there is great cause for rejoicing — and for A NEW RESPONSIBILITY IN PRAYER FOR THIS CHURCH. God is moving His work forward — and blessing it!
With much love, in Jesus' name, Herbert W. Armstrong