As a member of the Church of God, do you have any obligation to an ORGANIZATION? Is church attendance, tithing, Holy Day observance and attendance at God's Feasts REQUIRED of you?
"I'VE NEVER been much for goin' to Church!" one hears exclaimed from time to time. "I don't belong to any 'church' — they're nothin' but a social club!" you may have heard another say. If you're like most members of God's True Church today — you are pretty much disgusted with organized "churchianity" of this world! Maybe you used to be a member of one of the denominations. Perhaps you were not — perhaps you were suspicious of all this "church-going" and remained aloof. Perhaps you saw certain flaws in the minister of a false church, or didn't like the way the people claimed to believe one thing, and actually practiced another.
We live in a basically "PROTESTANT" country. We are the kind of people, who, by our very natures, REBEL against strict authority! We are naturally suspicious of really strict and stern GOVERNMENT. As a result of our basically protesting, our "protest-ant" background, many of us are totally unfamiliar with any real CHURCH GOVERNMENT! Today — many are "religious independents." They feel "above" the "church-going" crowd around them — disdaining and spurning church attendance. Many of yon brethren of God's Church have clearly seen the error of the worldly churches, and have been faithful to God's commands to "COME OUT OF HER, my people..." (Rev. 18:4). You have now come out (we prayerfully hope you really have!) of this organized confusion of the modern "Christian" world. But herein lies a great DANGER! Here is a pitfall! It could rob you of your salvation unless you truly recognize it, and make sure YOU are not trapped by it. If, brethren, any of you have carried this suspicion of ORGANIZATION, this hostility toward GOVERNMENT, this resentment of RULE, this aloof, superior, suspicious attitude toward CHURCH — ATTENDANCE, TITHING, BEING SUBSERVIENT TO AN ORGANIZED, ESTABLISHED, CHURCH — then you possess a frightfully dangerous attitude! You have an attitude that could, literally, rob you of your crown!
Perhaps this basic attitude — this basically "protestant" attitude is one which has actually HELPED bring you out of today's false religions, into the glorious LIGHT of God's True Church! But this brings us to a vitally important principle! COULD IT BE THAT A FEW OF YOU HAVE THIS SAME ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD'S CHURCH? Maybe, unknowingly, you have carried this suspicion of organization, this reluctance to attend regular church services, this resentment and hostility toward a regular, established, organized BODY — a false "CHURCH" — right on over into the ONE AND ONLY TRUE CHURCH — the one Jesus BUILT! Brethren, some of you have! "You shall know them by their fruits!" said Jesus (Matt. 7:16). This is the Bible equivalent of the old saying "actions speak louder than words." If you, by your actions, show you are a "religious independent," suspicious of any government or organization within God's TRUE Church, then it is plain YOU are one possessing this dangerous attitude. From time to time, on the summer baptizing tours Mr. Armstrong sends out from Ambassador College, this attitude of self-sufficiency is encountered. Some reason this way. They realized God demands they be baptized (Acts 2:38). They know, and have proved carefully to themselves that baptism is REQUIRED for them. But, their real contact with God's Church has always been ONLY VIA THE RADIO OR THE PRINTING press. They have never before had any personal, individual contact with God's own servants, or those who are doing the Work of God for this age. Somehow, they would like to he baptized. They want to "get right" with God. Then, after they are baptized by our teams they seem to want the men sent out to baptize them to leave. They expect their former contact with God's Church to remain the same as before. They have been hearing Mr. Armstrong or me personally. It is OUR voices they are used to hearing. Therefore, when they are told there is a local Church near them- they are somehow RELUCTANT to attend! These cases are, thank God, few and far between, but they have occurred. Do you see, brethren? Because many have falsely assumed this is merely "Mr. Armstrong's work," the single-handed work of a MAN whom the)' regard as himself being a "religious independent," they want to associate themselves with that man! They want to regard themselves as "believing like Mr. Armstrong does," or being a Co-worker with Mr. Armstrong! But THEY DO NOT WANT TO COME UNDER THE ORGANIZATION, THE GOVERNMENT, THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH OF GOD AND ITS MINISTERS. Some years ago, my brother, Mr. Richard D. Armstrong, wrote a similar article to this one. He entitled it "YOU ARE NOT AN ARMSTRONGITE!" Perhaps the reason my brother (who, before his death, was one of God's top Evangelists, Director of the Foreign Work, and Associate Editor of The PLAIN TRUTH and GOOD NEWS) and I have especially noticed this tendency in some of you brethren is this: Many people simply ASSUME, since our names happen to be ARMSTRONG, that we are only "going along" with "Dad's religion." NOTHING could be further from the truth! Mr. Armstrong and I are merely TWO of the MANY true ministers of the Almighty God, through whom He is carrying out HIS, not our, WORK! We are ministers in a highly organized, bona-fide, registered, recognized, official, CHURCH! That Church is the TRUE CHURCH OF GOD founded by Jesus. It is NOT "Mr. Armstrong's Church." It is NOT the church of some new "method" of government, called the "Methodist" Church. It is not a church emphasizing the second "advent" of Christ and so adopting the name "Adventist." It is not the church of John the Baptist, not a church of any man, woman, or group of men and women! It is THE CHURCH OF GOD!
You Are a Member of a CHURCH!
If you have really repented, and have been baptized according to God's commands, then you are a member of a Church! That Church is ORGANIZED. It has many ministers, local congregations and its members are responsible for certain DIVINELY imposed OBLIGATIONS! Among those obligations which God makes plain THROUGH His Church are attendance regularly, tithing, and complete and total submission to GOD'S government He has placed in His Church. Jesus said, "... I will build my Church" (Matt. 16:18). He, Jesus Christ Himself, is the HEAD of that Church (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22; 5:23). There is only ONE True Church of which Jesus is the Head — THIS Church! "There is one body [the very body of Christ — the Church] and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith [body of belief-system of doctrine — God's own TRUTH] one baptism..." (Eph. 4:4-5). Yes, IF you have been truly repentant, and have been duly baptized by God's own chosen servants, God has put you into His own TRUE CHURCH. "By ONE SPIRIT are we all baptized into one body..." (I Cor. 12:13). Peter said only when we REPENT and are baptized can we receive of God's Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Paul was inspired to write, "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Rom. 8:9). It is only through receiving of His SPIRIT — the spiritual begettal to potential God — life that YOU BECOME A CHRISTIAN! And notice it — if you have received His Spirit, yon have AUTOMATICALLY BECOME A LITERAL, RESPONSIBLE MEMBER OF AN ORGANIZED, VISIBLE BODY — A CHURCH!
Is ORGANIZATION of the Devil?
Today, we are living in a world of "organized confusion!" It is in chaos, disagreement, darkness, confusion. But it is ORGANIZED. The governments of this world, their military arms, their police forces, their educational systems, their complex, intricate business and social strata are highly organized. Satan is the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4). He is the author of its systems, its governments, its religions (Rev. 12:9). Satan has a KINGDOM (Matt. 12:26). It is called "BABYLON THE GREAT!" (Rev. 17:5). But Satan's kingdom is a mixture of good AND evil. The Devil is the arch-counterfeiter! He cleverly MIXES truth and error, bad and good, right and wrong, to allow the human mind to see the good, but to be deluded, to be blinded to the bad! Some suppose all CITIES to be EVIL — of Babylon, of this world. And — true enough — all of THIS WORLD'S CITIES ARE EVIL! But GOD HIMSELF IS LIVING IN A CITY! He is going to bring the WHOLE COMPLEX, HIGHLY DEVELOPED, BEAUTIFUL CITY TO THIS EARTH! (Rev. 21:2). Maybe you have supposed all connected with the military is inherently EVIL. But God is an organizer of ARMIES, believe it or not! (Rev. 19:14). Jesus showed when His Kingdom comes to this earth, then will His servants FIGHT (John 18:36 with Rev. 19:11-16). The WRONG thing about military organizations is their goal! The], are organized for the purpose of KILLING, of destroying, of going to war. Actually, there is no earthly system closer. to the real Government of God than that of the military. Soldiers are taught absolute, unquestioning obedience to their superior officers — and failure to comply brings severe penalties! No, brethren — organization, departmentalization, order, SYSTEM, are OF GOD, not of the Devil. "For God is not the author of confusion, but or PEACE, as in all churches of the saints" (I Cor. 14:33). The word inspired by the Holy Spirit in this scripture for "peace" conies from the Greek word "eirene" which, according to the Exhaustive Concordance, and the Greek-English Dictionary, means "unity, concord, HARMONY!" Yes, God is the Author of Government, of harmony, organization, system, ORDER.
God's Government Works!
God governs His Church — not any man! Jesus Christ the Son is its Living Head. Below Christ are Apostles, Prophets (though not occupying an administrative rank), Evangelists, Pastors and Elders. The Apostles realized the need for real organization in God's Work! When widows were being neglected, and confusion ensued, they ordained Deacons to organize a system for taking care of these physical needs (Acts 6:1-7). Later, God inspired Paul to write of the divinely ordained offices in His true Church: "And HE [God, not any man] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers..." (Eph. 4:11).
Christ Was Organized
But why? Crud answers, "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, TILL we all come in the UNITY [THE SYSTEMATIZATION, ORDER, ORGANIZATION, HARMONIZATION} of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [COMPLETELY ORGANIZED] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ..." (Eph. 4:12-13). Jesus was the most orderly man who ever lived. He did things in ORDER, His life was carefully ORGANIZED. Jesus did things EXACTLY ON TIME. He was responsible for the meticulous, careful, exact fulfillment of literally DOZENS of all-important prophecies, on which hinged His very office and Messiahship! The one great sign, the great PROOF He left of His DIVINITY was the exact time schedule, the way He and the Father had ORGANIZED the EXACT time of His time in the tomb and His resurrection! Had there been the slightest confusion, the slightest variance from this promised sign (Matt, 12:40), YOU WOULD HAVE NO SAVIOUR! When Jesus fed the four and the five thousand, He said, "MAKE THE MEN SIT DOWN" (John 6:10). Jesus wanted perfect order. Notice Luke's account of the same event, "For they were about five thousand men. And He said to His disciples. 'Make them sit down by fifties in u company' " (Luke 9:14). Jesus was orderly, systematic, organized! He has inspired His true ministers to clearly see the great need for smoother and better ORGANIZATION within His own Church! Without it, God's Work would not continue — it would be in chaos, confusion. With it, God's Work is leaping ahead year by year to become the greatest Work in radio this world has ever seen!
Why Organization Is Needed
Think for a moment, brethren! We have just observed the Days of Unleavened Bread. Pentecost is coming soon. In these Festivals we have multitudes of problems in making everything function smoothly. But especially at the Feast of Tabernacles do we meet many myriad organizational problems. Let me give you just a LITTLE bit of an insight into what is BEHIND a successful Feast of Tabernacles — or any successful Festival. Last year, with the Feast having been held at three locations in the United States, there were literally HUNDREDS of details to look after, things to organize, systematize, get in order. For example, months and months in advance. many of you were making reservations for the booths. This took organization. Crews of men had to see to the parking problems, carefully diagramming, laying out road systems, parking lanes, one-way streets, and traffic control. Every eventuality had to be considered, talked over, and written about. Whole crews were working toward providing song books, chairs, getting the big buildings in each place readied. In Squaw Valley, the first year, we had to have an architect draw up plans, and a lumber company build a big stage for the sermons, one strong enough to hold an organ and grand piano, and the whole high-school choir! There were meal tickets to be designed, printed and sold. Central registration to be taken care of, with complete plans of each building, each motel, each camping area, each numbered and carefully catalogued. Each person had to be located as near as possible according to his own choice, and according to his needs, and yet according to the over-all considerations of space availability, cost, size of room, nearness of facilities to the valley, and so on. All this took GREAT ORGANIZATION, it took PLANNING, it took myriads of HOURS OF TIME! Many ministers' meetings were called. A complete speaking schedule, which minister would go where, and when he would speak, had to be talked over, mulled about, prayed over, and approved. These were then printed, and mailed to all ministers Complete counseling teams, sections A and B had to be selected, checked and approved, with a printed sheet then distributed. Ministers to be available for anointings at certain hours had to be scheduled, roving teams of men to help those on the grounds, in Booth City, in the camping area, or in the areas at Squaw Valley and Jekyll Island had to be assigned. Letters had to be drafted and written, then sent out to the whole membership. Menus had to be carefully put together, checked and approved. Then tons of food had to be ordered, and provisions made for storing it properly, having just enough always on hand, and yet preventing spoilage! Busses had to either be purchased, leased or rented. Schedules had to be carefully set up, involving many hours of careful planning, talking and checking. Dozens and dozens of personal questions had to bc answered in advance by letter. Questions about housing, about extra bedding, about staying near a friend, about food, about temperature, altitudes, extra second tithe, and a host of others. Students were working on acts, singing, individual variety performances, working hard to put together an enjoyable "fun show" for the members Men were laboring on the Big Sandy, Texas tabernacle grounds to clear brush, provide a nice area for a barbecue for hundreds of our older single people, the widows and widowers, the "eligibles" in God's Church! Mr. Jackson was organizing special events, including spiritual meetings, recreational activities for the colored brethren in God's Church. Specially picked men from Pasadena, arriving days and days well in advance of the Feast in all three places had to look into the electrical systems, sewage and drainage systems, parking systems, availability of conference and mothers' rooms, checking the public address systems, getting plenty of key personnel placed in just the right areas, to help direct God's people smoothly, orderly, so they could have a more enjoyable Feast! And there were many, many more complex activities which I have not mentioned! Brethren, all this took THOUGHT! It took PLANNING, and it took careful ORGANIZATION.
God Blesses His Work
God has truly BLESSED His Work by sending more and more truly CAPABLE men and women, truly dedicated and consecrated to His service, who are carrying vital responsibilities in His Church. He has blessed His Work with humble, hard-working, volunteer laborers, who are not being paid for their services to others during the Feasts, to make it more and more enjoyable for YOU! Yes, this is truly a great blessing! But wait! Something is wrong! Something is still LACKING! WHY are some of you people, claiming to be the very men and women of God, REBELLIOUS TOWARD AUTHORITY! Why do some BALK at any direction? Why are so many STIFF-NECKED toward local Pastors, Deacons, servers, traffic directors, and ushers? BECAUSE SOME ARE YET CARNAL — THEY ARE REBELLIOUS, STIFF-NECKED, UNCONVERTED! If this means You — then it is time to HEED! "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; PROVE your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (II Cor. 13:5). But God is leading His servants more and more to realize these harmful attitudes must be weeded out! Look at a huge "mechanical brain." A great computer. Here is indeed an electronic marvel. The machine is to perform a certain task. But a small, tiny tube becomes defective. It cannot perform its task, it is disorganized, operating sporadically. Will the operator of the machine simply allow the machine to operate at less than ONE PER CENT efficiency, because of one small tube? Certainly not! No — he would replace that defective, unco-operative tube IMMEDIATELY! He would get a NEW one, or else repair that one, so the machine could operate smoothly, orderly, efficiently! You may have an eight-cylinder automobile. But if only ONE cylinder is not functioning, your car is thrown completely out of harmony. It sputters and smokes, running on about 1/3 power, at less speed, and much greater gasoline consumption. What do you do? Just LEAVE IT THAT WAY? Of course not! You change it — or you get it repaired! It is the same in GOD'S ORGANIZATION! We have a vitally important JOB to do. It entails our church attendance, our faithful tithing, our attendance at annual Festivals. It means we are REQUIRED, OBLIGATED, to co-operate, to obey. When God's own ORDAINED APOSTLE calls upon you to send in for meal tickets, THEN DO IT! When a traffic director at any Sabbath service or Festival says, "Go this way," then DO it! When an announcement says DO NOT drive your cars from the camp area to services — then DO NOT DO IT! When an announcement during Pentecost services this year comes asking for volunteer help, then HELP! When Mr. Armstrong asks you to send in your second tithe for the Festival of Tabernacles in advance, to insure proper registration, then SEND it! The Apostle Paul said the PROOF of real Christianity is OBEDIENCE! "For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things!" (II Cor. 2:9). Yes, brethren, if you really ARE a member of God's own Church — You HAVE STERN OBLIGATIONS! God issues orders! He gives commands! God EXPECTS ABSOLUTE, UNQUESTIONING OBEDIENCE! Is that unreasonable? Is it not the very ESSENCE of your Bible? In the book of Genesis, God "COMMANDED the man, saying..." (Gen. 2:16), and in the book of Revelation, He inspired John to write, "Blessed are they that DO HIS COMMANDMENTS..." (Rev. 22:14). Abraham is the father of the faithful because he OBEYED God unquestioningly! (Gen. 26:5).
Our Awesome Responsibility
Brethren, listen! In every worldly government, every society, every club, lodge, group, every church, every university, every group of men, GROWTH was always synonymous with DECAY! Getting bigger meant getting more LAX, lessening controls, government, real principles, basic truths. Nations grow fat and lazy, lacking purpose and drive. Churches get big and unwieldy, and resort to HUMAN government! WE CANNOT — and WE WILL NOT let this happen in the very Church of God! The BIGGER we grow, the better organized, the more systematized, the more simplified, the more streamlined and EFFICIENT we must become! We must become more OBEDIENT! More RESPONSIVE! We must have that utter spontaneity, that quickness to help, to obey, to follow directions that comes from a truly converted, humble mind! We must LOVE one another, and RESPECT offices God is using, no matter how slight or small they may seem to be! God says they are important! Let's make this Pentecost — 1964 — the most organized, efficient and enjoyable Festival ever. Brethren — all of us need to co-operate one hundred percent! — in everything. We have the AWESOME responsibility of UNITEDLY, with ORDER and ORGANIZATION — performing God's own commission to His people in this age — and we have got to get it done! It is REQUIRED of us! Will we do it?