Here is the conclusion of the true story of the true Church, founded A.D. 31 by Jesus Christ, the unique and only voice giving a hopeless world its only and sure hope—the soon-coming peaceful and happy world tomorrow!
The real truth is incredibly eye-opening. It is stranger than any fiction. It may be hard to believe—but it is TRUE! Let's go back, for the moment, to the time of Christ—and even to the time of Old Testament prophecies before His appearing. The prophet Isaiah foretold the appearance of Christ; that He would be born as a baby, grow up, and eventually become the RULER and the SAVIOR of humanity. Note this amazing prophecy in which Isaiah was recording a message from God concerning ancient Israel: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the GOVERNMENT shall be upon his shoulder... " (Isa. 9:6). In other words, Isaiah foretold that Jesus Christ was born to BECOME A KING A RULER. But continue the prophecy: "... and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." So Jesus Christ was to be not only King and Ruler over GOVERNMENT, He also was to be Savior or God. Continue, verse 7: "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." (See Luke 1:26-33.)
Messenger of the Covenant
Notice one more key prophecy foretelling the coming of Christ. It is in Malachi 3:1: "Behold, I will send my messenger [human], and he shall prepare the way before me [Christ]: and the Lord, whom ye seek [Christ], shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger [Christ] of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts." This is speaking of Christ's coming as "the Messenger of the New Covenant." Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant. That covenant was a MARRIAGE covenant, by which Israel became a NATION of this world, "married" to God. Christ came as a Messenger of the NEW Covenant, which shall establish the coming government and the KINGDOM OF GOD on earth. The true Church, at that time, shall be changed from fleshly material composition to immortal spirit composition. And this Church, then immortal, is to marry the resurrected Christ. As the Old Covenant under Moses established ancient Israel as one of this world's human kingdoms, so the New Covenant will establish the resurrected saints of Christ, immortal, as the WORLD RULING KINGDOM, with Christ as Ruler. But if one reads verses 2-5 of Malachi 3, he will see it refers primarily to the SECOND coming of Christ as King of kings—not merely to His first appearing on earth more than 1900 years ago. John the Baptist was the human messenger who prepared the way before Christ's first coming. But another must prepare the way before His second and now imminent coming in supreme power and glory.
What Was Christ's Gospel?
Now look briefly at the New Testament record of Christ's coming, ministry, and establishment of God's CHURCH. One summary-in-brief is the book of Mark, chapter 1: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (verse I). Mark's Gospel begins at a time when Jesus was about thirty years old. Beginning in verse 2, the account of Jesus' ministry speaks of John the Baptist preparing the way before Him. Verses 9-10 speak of Jesus being baptized by John and of the Spirit of God descending upon Him. Verses 12-13 record Jesus' 40-day fast and His overcoming of Satan, thus qualifying Him to reestablish the Kingdom of God upon the earth. Then, in verses 14-15, the actual beginning of His gospel message (of which He was the Messenger—Malachi 3: 1) occurs: "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching"—WHAT gospel message?—"the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled [since Jesus qualified by overcoming Satan], and the kingdom of God is at hand : repent ye, and believe the gospel." The word gospel means "good news." His message was prophetic. It was NEWS of the future setting-up of the Kingdom of God to RULE and bring peace and salvation to the world—therefore it was the ANNOUNCEMENT of future GOOD NEWS!
Born into God's Family
But Jesus was born and came into the world for more than being KING and RULER WORLDWIDE! He came also as spiritual SAVIOR. This is recorded in brief in John 3: "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God . . . . Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (verses 1-3). Notice, the Kingdom of God will be something that can be SEEN—but not until one is born again. "Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" (Verse 4.) Nicodemus could not understand this matter of being "BORN AGAIN," just as almost no one understands it today. "Jesus answered .... That which is born of the flesh is flesh [that is, a mortal HUMAN]; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (verses 5- 6). That is, once born again, one is born not of a human father in mortal physical human flesh, but of God, impregnated by God's Spirit, in immortal SPIRIT COMPOSITION, as a God Being! Born of God! One may be begotten of God by receiving His Holy Spirit in this life. But he is born again only in the immortal SPIRIT life to come—at the time of the resurrection. When BORN AGAIN, he will BE spirit—no longer mortal flesh and blood. These words of Jesus ought to be plainly understood— and they are further explained in the "resurrection chapter," I Corinthians 15. Yet they are NOT today generally understood, even in theological seminaries! Jesus came, then, for TWO primary purposes: to qualify to become, SOON now, WORLD RULER; and to become Savior. Humans may, through a resurrection from the dead, become divine immortal spirit beings—as born children of God in the GOD FAMILY! But how little of this is understood today! And how subtly the plain teachings of Jesus and of Scripture have been twisted into a counterfeit meaning!
Jesus' Mission on Earth
Now quickly take a look at what Jesus did during His 33 1/2 years on earth. He met and conquered Satan (Matt. 4:1-11), thus qualifying to be EARTH'S KING and to set up the KINGDOM OF GOD! Then He called and chose His disciples, later to become His original apostles, to carry the message of the KINGDOM OF GOD to the world. This is the message of the WAY OF LIFE of that Kingdom—based on the Ten Commandments! He proclaimed the GOOD NEWS of the future KINGDOM OF GOD to thousands—though He did not come, some 1900 years ago, on a "soul-saving crusade." Then, although sinless Himself, He was crucified so that His shed lifeblood would pay the death penalty for a repentant and believing humanity. After three days and three nights in the tomb, He was resurrected by God the Father. And thus was He BORN by a resurrection as a Son of God—as the pioneer, the firstborn (to immortality) of many brethren (Rom. 8:29, Heb. 2:9-10). Then, having for 3 1/2 years taught and trained His apostles in the truth, He SENT THEM (the word "apostle" means "one sent forth") to proclaim this GOOD NEWS of the future KINGDOM OF GOD! However, before sending forth the apostles with this message, He ascended to heaven to be seated at the right hand of God, on His Father's throne over the entire UNIVERSE. Christ, in His resurrected state, had spent some 40 days on earth with His apostles. On the annual day of Pentecost, some ten days after His ascension, He sent from heaven His Holy Spirit to enter into the 120 disciples (Acts 1: 15) who had followed Him and believed thus founding the CHURCH OF GOD (Acts 2). That same day about 3,000 were baptized and added to the 120 (Acts 2:41).
True Gospel Suppressed
Almost immediately a great persecution was aroused against the Church and the gospel message (Acts 8: 1). The apostle Paul was converted and made the chief apostle to the Gentiles. The Church had been founded on the day of Pentecost, June A.D. 31. But by A.D. 59 or 60 the opposition already had suppressed Christ's true gospel of the Kingdom. People had been turned to another gospel (Gal. 1:6). It is difficult to believe, I know. But what the world supposes, falsely, is the "gospel of Jesus Christ" is not the gospel OF Christ—not the message He taught—but the message of uncalled and deceived men . ABOUT Christ—about the PERSON or the Messenger. But the message God sent BY Christ as the divine Messenger they have not heard. But, though Christ's gospel message was after a few years suppressed, the apostles went forth with that message—infused with dynamic POWER by the Holy Spirit. They, with the Church backing them with their prayers, encouragement and tithes, started out imbued with vitality and strength.
God's Church Endures Persecution
But it must be realized that the fierce persecution had a discouraging effect. One example of this and of the primary function of the Church—is found in Acts, chapters 3 and 4. For healing a cripple and preaching to the crowd the miracle attracted, the apostles Peter and John were thrown overnight in prison and severely threatened. But these apostles went immediately to the Church brethren for encouragement. They prayed fervently, asking God to grant divine power that the gospel might continue to go out. Result? "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they [the apostles] spake the word of God with boldness" (Acts 4:31). However, as the persecution intensified— and as the true gospel message was suppressed by the power of the Roman government and the false church started in A.D. 33 by Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9- 24)—the work of proclaiming the true gospel had to go underground. It was no longer proclaimed to the world. The work of the Church had ebbed through the centuries to a mere trickle. But Christ had said the gates of the grave would not prevail against His Church. It continued, often an underground Church· meeting in secret, through every generation. By the beginning of the twentieth century that vital power which had worked dynamically in Christ and the original apostles had waned, until, in Christ's prophecy of Revelation 3:1-6, they had "a name that they lived"—the Church of God—"but were dead" spiritually, and they lacked the vitality to go forth with Christ's message! A number of small isolated groups in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, and Central America, as well as in the United States, were still kept in the NAME Church of God.
New Leadership and Vitality Infused
In 1927 the United States members consisted of very small local groups of from five to one hundred. At that time Christ raised up a new leader imbued with God's Spirit, vitality, inspired UNDERSTANDING and perseverance —Herbert W. Armstrong. He had been a successful businessman in the advertising, newspaper and magazine field. In the fall of 1926 he was shaken by two emotion—stirring challenges one on the validity of God's spiritual law, the Ten Commandments; the second on the theory of evolution— then rapidly gaining complete acceptance by higher education. Mr. Armstrong was somewhat familiar with the evolutionary doctrine, but he had not pursued an intensive in-depth study and research into the question. He delved immediately into the writings of Darwin, Haeckel, Huxley, Spencer, Vogt and other advocates of the hypothesis. He PROVED, to his own satisfaction, the falsity of the theory. He had believed, in common with the Protestant teaching in which he had been reared, that God's spiritual law had been abrogated by Christ and the early apostles. "All these churches," he had argued with his wife , "can't be wrong—and they teach the abrogation of God's law." But to his utter amazement and chagrin, Herbert Armstrong began to learn that "all these churches" indeed were in error! "Why," he exclaimed on his first real examination of the Bible, "the churches of organized traditional Christianity are teaching the diametric opposite of what I see plainly in the Bible!" His intensive almost night—and day study, although frustrating at the time, swept his mind clean of teachings from his Sunday school and church upbringing! God caused him to now seriously and earnestly study the Bible AFRESH—as if he had never allowed previous teachings to have a place in his mind. No world religious leader, in all probability, has ever been brought to revealed TRUTH in this unprejudiced manner. The experience of the apostle Paul seemed to parallel his own. Mr. Armstrong later wrote: "But I certify to you, brethren, that the gospel preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, nor was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.... But when it pleased God . .. to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him to the world, I conferred not with flesh and blood [humans], neither went I to any theological seminary, but, as the original apostles and Paul were taught by CHRIST IN PERSON, so was I taught by the SAME CHRIST, through His WRITTEN WORD" (cf. Gal. 1:11, 15-17). "But," Mr. Armstrong said at the time, "IF all these churches ARE wrong—and IF, as Jesus said, His Church would never die but continue to exist—where is the one true Church today?" Mr. Armstrong and his wife began fellowshipping with people of the Church of God in the Willamette Valley and Oregon City, in Oregon. They were living then in Portland. These humble but sincere people, it soon became clear, had MORE BIBLICAL TRUTH than any other church—though they constituted one of the smallest and most scattered churches. But until the summer of 1928 he had refused to speak before these small local church groups, because he felt the ministry was a profession no man ought to choose himself. Finally he was virtually drafted into doing so. Realizing that he had the training and unusual experience in the business world, the education, the know how, the vision, the initiative and experience in utilizing modern methods necessary to get the Work of God going out in a complex modern world, they looked more and more to Mr. Armstrong for leadership. And finally it became evident to all that the call to the ministry was genuinely from God, and not a self-imposed one. In June 1931, Mr. Armstrong was ordained by the Oregon Conference and entered the Work of God full time.
New Era—New Life
It was under his leadership that a new era of the Church of God was begun. The Church was revitalized and injected with new life and vigor by the Spirit of God, so that Christ's gospel —His ORIGINAL MESSAGE could go out in power to the whole world. Much more than human experience and know—how was required. Once again God was sending forth and infusing into His Church His Spirit of POWER. The time had come for the final message of God for this present world to go out with great impact. The time had come for God's Work to prepare the way for the soon coming wonderful WORLD TOMORROW— the time when, by act of God, His government will be restored on earth. It will be a world of PEACE, of HAPPINESS, of JOY, with abundance and plenty, under the worldwide government of the great God through the living Jesus Christ! In the summer and autumn of 1933, Mr. Armstrong gave a series of lectures in and around Eugene, Oregon, on the original gospel message taught by Christ which produces peace, true success, and real happiness. The response was spontaneous and beyond expectation. An invitation followed to speak on radio station KORE, then Eugene's only radio outlet. Frank Hill, owner, suggested a weekly half-hour program to give this missing dimension in God's TRUTH exposure to a wider audience. He, himself. contributed substantially to its cost.
God now began opening doors for a Spirit—empowered Work to leap forth (Rev. 3:7-8). The Work from this point grew in power and scope at the rate of 30 percent a year over the next 35 years. The first week in 1934, The World Tomorrow program went on the air. It met with an immediate response, considering the small power and limited coverage of the station . KORE was then of the very smallest wattage for commercial broadcasting— 100 watts. Gradually the program went on more and more stations. By 1942 the program had gained national coverage in the United States, and by 1945 it became a daily program. Finally, the broadcast had the largest wattage of any radio program worldwide—more than 50 million watts of power weekly reaching an estimated 100 million listeners, besides many additional millions reached by other media. On February 1, 1934, The Plain Truth magazine made its mol t humble bow. That Volume I, Number I had a circulation of approximately .250 copies. The Plain Truth was offered radio listeners gratis, but subscriptions were entered only on personal request. It has never been our policy to put a price on the magazine, nor to request financial support in its columns or on the air. Today The Plain Truth is one of the finest quality magazines in the world, but it still contains the same vital message, and it is still offered free of charge.
Why a College?
As the Church and its work expanded, the establishment of a college became imperative. There were a number of reasons for this. The Church of God had never been a proselyting church. Jesus Christ set the example. He never urged people to "get saved" or "be converted." When the woman at Jacob's well in Samaria asked Him to give her of God's Spirit, which He had referred to as "living water," He made no effort to convert her. He did proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, saying, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark I: IS). He chose His disciples and simply said, "Follow me." They followed unquestioningly. He made no emotional appeals for converts. He made no pleading "altar calls" accompanied by sentimental hymns. Nor did the apostles. The Church of God follows the example they set. Therefore it has no evangelistic program or missionary activities in the modern sense of the words. Instead, its commission is to proclaim the good news of the coming Kingdom of God—not to convert the world, but merely "as a witness" to all nations. This is actually an EDUCATIONAL message of the WAY OF LIFE to be lived in the Kingdom of GOD—THE WAY that leads to success, to peace, happiness, to the full, enjoyable, abundant life. It involves the KNOWLEDGE of the PURPOSE of human life on this planet—the real meaning of life; the knowledge of the TRUE VALUES in a world pursuing the false; the knowledge of what man is, why he is, and the WAY to his transcendent potential. This is not a sentimental, emotional message about Christ as a Person—it is not a message of pleading with people to "give their hearts to the Lord"—but a message showing people what they need to turn from and teaching them THE WAY that will CAUSE the results they really want—here and now, as well as throughout eternity. An adjunct of the Church's commission is to feed those who do become converted —converted means "changed to a different attitude and way made possible by receiving God's Spirit"—to feed them the spiritual food of practical commonsense Christian LIVING by God's WAY OF LIFE.
Ambassador College Founded
Therefore the Church of God found the establishment of an educational institution imperative. It was needed to provide an educated ministry. It was needed to provide trained personnel for administrative needs in God's Work of proclaiming this good news worldwide—by radio, by television, in print. Pasadena, California, was chosen as the locale for the college. Ambassador College swung open its doors to students October 8, 1947. It was separately incorporated in 1951. Since the commission of the Church is actually an educational not an evangelistic—one, this entire operation became for some years the activity of Ambassador College. Therefore Ambassador College has remained Church associated. It is largely Church financed . The Church of God has always been a tithe—paying church. It knows God has promised, scripturally, to prosper the tithe-payer. This practice has caused members to be more careful in budgeting personal finances. These members have prospered financially and, consequently, so has the Church.
Nonproselyting, Nonpolitical, Nonmilitant
As stated above, the Church of God from A.D. 31 has been nonproselyting and entirely noncompetitive, in accordance with biblical principles. In no sense is it militant, nor has it ever participated in any agitating movement to bring about any objectives by action. It participates in no group or mass action, political or otherwise. The Church of God, in all its history, has had only an attitude of love for all races and peoples, regardless of color, creed, or nationality. Always its teaching has been submission to whatever AUTHORITY is over one—whether human government or the authority of God. The Worldwide Church of God, while not activist or militant, does nevertheless believe in and offers practical solutions to the many human problems. Through its continued teaching over radio, television, and in its magazines and special booklets, it ?as profound impact upon society III many ways. More than a million people have received our booklet concerning crime, its causes, and how people can protect themselves, their children, and their property from criminals. Millions have experienced changes in their marital lives through our broadcasts and through reading the instructional booklets and magazine articles they have received. From New Zealand to Africa, and from the Swiss Alps to Puget Sound, tens of thousands write of the deep and far-reaching changes effected in their homes and families through a better understanding of God—revealed ways of right, clean, wholesome living. Tens of thousands write of their newfound ability to properly rear their children; of the immediate rewards in greater love and obedience shown them by their children after they have read and applied the information they have requested. Millions of Lives Changed Millions have read literature which changed their personal lives in many constructive, useful ways. The television and radio broadcasts and booklets about pollution, famine, the population explosion, and the space race deal with big, worldwide issues. And our literature about drugs, alcohol, marriage, managing personal finances and the laws of success deals with daily, practical, personal information that literally changes lives. The members of the Worldwide Church of God are so genuinely concerned for OTHERS, and with the problems of the world at large, that they GIVE of their own substance to aid in this worldwide effort to APPLY THE SOLUTIONS to the problems suffered in common by all mankind. The divine commission to the Worldwide Church of God is to proclaim the coming world of peace under the soon-coming divine Messiah. The Church is merely in the role of a reporter, reporting prophecies as ADVANCE NEWS REPORTS. It is giving hopeless nations with their masses the ONLY hope for the future —the hope never heard in those nations before. And THAT is the Worldwide Church of God!