Greetings everyone! I know a lot of people have been drawn many different directions the last few days, but many are very loyal and encouraging. I hope all of you are trying to be loyal and encouraging through the trials we're going through. And we certainly all need each other's prayers.
Brethren, I think you've all heard of the changes. They've been very traumatic for people of every persuasion in the church, and I'm sure you understand that. I have a great deal of sympathy for those involved, because changes are hard, difficult, and shocking.
In times of war, in times of strife, in times of battle, sometimes we change battle strategy quickly. Mr. Armstrong decided to appoint me as the new director of Pastoral Administration, as I think you all know. But Jesus Christ is at the top and we had better all know that. I know that deeply and fervently, and under Him, Mr. Armstrong is top. There are three or four of us here who are to work together as a team. And then on out, dozens of others are going to work together as a team. Then hundreds of us on campus are going to work together as a team. And then the ministers and the people in the field, thousands of us, are going to work together as a team. Together, we will get the job done!
I would like to point out that there are all kinds of rumors flying every which way. Please, brethren, don't believe all these rumors!
I'm responsible in this particular office as far as the ministry at this particular point — as far as disfellowshipments and things like that — and nobody has been disfellowshipped, period. Later during the sermon Mr. Meredith received Mr. Armstrong's letter disfellowshipping four men/. One or two have been suspended, but nobody has been disfellowshipped in this particular crisis of the last few days, period. There may have to be a few disfellowships depending upon future conduct and attitude and other facts as they come out, and I want to try to have time to talk to the individuals involved. I want to make peace. I want to help us all to have the opportunity to serve as much as we can. God wants all of us to exercise our full human potential, every last one of us, and as we work together as a team I'm sure we can do that.
I'm just a bond slave of Jesus Christ and your servant. And I hope I can do a good job. If God doesn't like my work, He will kick me out and God is going to. run this Church through His servant Jesus Christ of Nazareth and through His human servant, Mr. Armstrong. As long as he is faithful, and as long as I'm faithful, I'm sure that God will be with us. And I hope that you will all pray for us and this will work out.
Concerning all these attacks that have been leveled at us that Mr. Rader is this and that, there has been no proof whatsoever. These rumors have been almost an obsession with many people. I want to charge you (Business Dept., Data Processing, etc.) on the authority of Jesus Christ, publicly right now, to cooperate with these auditors and to not withhold anything that would bring out any financial malfeasance by anybody, including me and my wife and children. And I mean it. I want you to cooperate and not try to cover up anything. I want to be sure that this is the cleanest and the most honest and the most decent and the most wholesome Church on the face of the earth!
Brethren, we're in a testing time in God's Work. And I think we all know that. We are going through what is probably the greatest test of this Work so far. We may have said that before. And at previous occasions we have had "the greatest test," perhaps back in 1972, and then we had "the greatest test" in 1974. But because of the cumulative upset and problems, this is indeed an even greater test. But we should thank God for the trials!
We do need to keep things in perspective though, and recognize that our trials are not those of Peter and Paul, who were beaten, who had their clothes jerked off of them and lashed with a cat-o'-nine-tails so that the hide was torn right off their backs. I don't think we've had that kind of trials yet! Our trials are a little different.
In Matthew 24:8, Jesus describes the trials, in a sense, the punishments and the plagues that are going to be brought on the world at the time of the end. He talks about wars and world wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes in different places. And Jesus said, all these are the beginning of sorrows. "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted during this period of time, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my-name's sake. And then at this very time when these things begin to occur and these things are in process of happening... and then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many."
There is not an attitude of submission to authority in our society. It is the most judgmental and rebellious attitude that perhaps has ever existed in the American society up until this day. It is an attitude that will drastically change after our people are brought down and are starving to death in concentration camps.
But we've got to have our attitudes changed here and now and try not to let that attitude or spirit of rebellion enter our minds.
Jesus said, "But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved." We didn't really know what that meant ten years ago, but we've been learning, haven't we? We do have to endure to the end. But most of us haven't had too many bloody trials yet. We're grateful for that.
Back in Colossians 1:18 Christ is described as our living and our active head. And brethren, again, it's so easy to get our minds off that. I saw back in '71 and '72 when certain things happened that some people who were weak or had a lot of problems, left at that particular point. (It seems like God is sorting things out). And then in '74 certain things happened and it became obvious that God was trying us and sorting us out, and as you look back, you can see that those whose hearts were right and those who didn't have an attitude that" I want things the way I want them and I want them right now," that are genuinely humble and patient and walking in the fear of God — they're still with us. And they will continue to be with us, and nothing will shake them.
I pray and I hope all of you will pray fervently. Let's keep our minds on the real leadership. The real leadership is not Herbert Armstrong, the real leadership is not anyone of us here today or anywhere else on earth humanly, but the REAL LEADERSHIP IS JESUS CHRIST! And we've got to have confidence in that and really believe that. That's an article of faith, that Jesus Christ is the Head of this Church, and we've got to do that and ask Him to sort things out.
Ask God to guide Mr. Armstrong's mind and to give him understanding and knowledge and insight and spiritual discernment to grasp the attitudes of all those around him with whom he is dealing, and to see who is truly a man of God and who is not, and who ought to be in this or that or some other job, and to do it sincerely and to do it humbly. Ask God in heaven to guide his mind and inspire him and lead him and to give him wisdom and judgment and foresight and vision and big-mindedness to see the big picture as God would want him to.
Brethren, Christ is to be the head of the Church in every way. He is to be the head of the Church in regard to the Church administration. He is to be the head of the Church in regard to publishing, to be the head in regard to our data processing, and the editorial, and to be the head in media, and to be the head in the YOU programs, and the YES programs, and every other program we have in Ambassador College, as I said, and all the rest of it. Christ is to be the head of His Church and of the work of His Church. And we are to ask Him and should ask Him now more than ever to intervene and to guide and lead and inspire and also to sort out.
I ask your prayers for me, for Mr. McNair, for Mr. LaRavia, for Mr. Helge, for Mr. Rader, and certainly for Mr. Herbert Armstrong. Pray for our area coordinators and the other leading men in the Church here — the evangelists and pastors and the teachers in the college, and all the other men, the fine men in publishing and editorial and those in the rest of the Work.
"He Christ gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers" (Eph. 4:11). He put them in the Church. That's His doing. That's the government of God.
What are your tithes and offerings being spent for, basically? And they are. I don't want any smart guy thinking otherwise, they are. The vast overwhelming majority of your tithes and offerings are and have been spent on radio, TV time, publishing, and doing the Work of God.
The big thing that we're paying for and that our prayers are for is proclaiming; the coming Kingdom or government of God. That's the whole thing — government from the top down. And God has put officers in that government, some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. We are to think about the government of God and submit to the government of God. And if we can't do that now, and be together and recognize that government, we're total misfits to be in the Kingdom of God tomorrow.
And so brethren, be careful not to be tossed to and fro by conflicting doctrines and conflicting ideas, or even conflicting rumors, and let those things take you away from the basic thing which this Church has been doing, and is doing, and I pray and I do believe we'll continue doing more effectively, and more powerfully than ever after this cleansing and purging we've been getting this past year.
Satan the devil is real and he is alive. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in high places.
And brethren, there are wicked spirits and they are active and they're having an impact. And I think we need to realize this and understand this deeply. We are being attacked by many different types of spiritual attitudes. We're attacked from different directions by Satan the devil. Some are being influenced to follow a rebellious individual who has directly rebelled against his father, having gone contrary to everything he said he would never do. Some are being swayed in that direction.
Others are being swayed to just get upset generally because of rumors about Mr. Rader or alleged improprieties of all sorts. And Satan will use that to take those people out if they want to let their minds be blown and go off in that direction. And then others may be taken away because they have liberal tendencies or doctrinal errors themselves and want to follow a kind of a liberal way of life. They don't want God's way of life that He's established in the Church for the past 45 years under Herbert W. Armstrong, the anointed of God. They have constantly been subtly, but persistently, undermining that man. And so they will say, "I'm not going to change and decide to really follow from the heart what Mr. Armstrong says, so I'll get out."
All those pulls are going to be exerted on people and perhaps other pulls from other directions, and other spirit personalities will be pulling and tugging at people to try to get them to leave the Church of God of which Jesus Christ is the Living Head. And I hope that none of you fall for those things.
Mr. Armstrong has said that he does want any improprieties to come out and those who have perpetrated them to be punished. And if there have been other wrongs or grievances done where individuals have been treated unjustly in any way, I hope and pray we can rectify that as best as we can and be sure that we do administer God's government in wisdom and in patience and in love, and yet with proper firmness because God does that too.
I have a note here handed to Mr. Meredith reporting that something is corning from Mr. Armstrong — we'll see if it arrives.
Now, God says, "Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God, whose faith follow." And we are to follow their faith and we are to be loyal to God and to His government. That is the test at this time. Can you have faith in God's apostle and be following the one that God has ordained as His anointed all of these years? You are to submit yourselves and do it willingly and gladly and not with a lot of argument, because that makes it that much harder for God's servants, if they have to operate under that kind of situation.
Now God's servants will always make some mistakes. You read about Peter how that before he was filled with God's Holy Spirit, he cursed and denied Christ three times, and even after he was ordained and was the leading apostle in the New Testament Church, he and Paul had this confrontation when Paul confronted him over his lack of understanding of the racial issue that God was admitting all freely into God's Church in spiritual fellowship. Then Paul and Barnabas had a confrontation and the contention was so sharp between them that they worked separately for a while, and yet still cooperated, and wrote lovingly. Obviously they were in the same Work. They didn't start different churches. They didn't have a "Paul Church" and a "Barnabus Church."
And so people will make mistakes, but they must still teach God's laws and do God's way. And that's exactly what Mr. Armstrong has continued to do. And I think you all know that deeply. He has never wavered from that. God has put him in office and he is responsible to guide the Church.
In I Samuel 8 when Samuel was old, he made his sons judges over Israel. But they walked not in His ways, as you know, taking bribes, and perverting judgment. Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together and wanted to change the government of God — which was involved in this thing that came up recently, this court restraint that was imposed on us temporarily. They were not just rejecting a white-haired old patriarch here on earth, but they have rejected me," God said, "that I should not reign over them."
And brethren, I hope that we can understand that lesson. When we reject the man that God has given all of us this knowledge through, the man that God has used, we are in fact, rejecting God.
Back in I Samuel 24 is a very classic case. Saul went into the cave to relieve himself, ·and David's men said: "Kill him now. Now you've got him. Kill him." And David, of course, did cut off the corner of Saul's robe quietly, just to have something to wave and say: "See how close I got to killing you," but he did not kill him. And even cutting off part of his garment made him feel guilty later and he repented and said, "I should not have done it." And that's right. He should not have done even that! He said to his men (verse 6), "The Eternal forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Eternal's anointed, to stretch forth my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Eternal."
Likewise, Mr. Armstrong is the anointed of God.
In verse 7 it says, "And they came right to where Abner and the people were sleeping." Saul and Abner, his Captain, were sleeping and God obviously caused a deep sleep to come on them so they didn't even wake up. In verse 8 Abishai, this young warrior, said to David, "God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, let me smite him, I pray, with the spear even into the earth at once." He said, "Let me get one spear into him. It won't take more than that. I'll just nail him in one fell swoop." And David said, "Destroy him not. For who can stretch forth his hand against the Eternal's anointed and not be guiltless?"
Brethren, that is a lesson we need to learn really deeply. Those who would rise up and try to fight, or go off and start a competing work, or do anything like that are against God and against His anointed, because we are in a spiritual warfare. You say, "Well, they haven't killed Mr. Armstrong." No. But a lot of people have resisted him.
They have fought him within the organization in a wrong way. They've tried to undermine him. They've tried to circumvent him, and then they've gone outside and they've established their own church to fight this Church.
Within God's law, then, the main commodity that is necessary as a human characteristic becomes what? One word — LOYALTY. Loyalty to the government of God! That is the main commodity, as long as you already know it's God's Church; as long as you know that whatever you're being asked to do, and what Mr. Armstrong is doing, is within God's law. You may not understand every detail of it, but it's within God's law and he continues to do God's Work.
In a crisis situation, what is the one thing God expects of you and looks for in you more than anything else? LOYALTY! It really is, brethren, and I hope you can realize that and meditate on that deeply.
Well, brethren, I hope all of us want to strengthen ourselves with Mr. Armstrong, and strengthen ourselves with Jesus Christ and strengthen ourselves with our Father by showing loyalty in a time of crisis, because that's what we're in, and this is the situation that we're facing right now. So let's do that, and let's really have that attitude.
Satan has a kingdom. He has a government. But the message in Matthew the 12th chapter is that everything, every institution, every house, every nation, every church that is divided against itself cannot stand. And brethren, if we allow ourselves to be bitter, to be upset, to be accusative in a wrong way of the decisions of Jesus Christ through his apostle, not bringing it up loyally and patiently and helpfully, but in a way that creates hysteria, in a way that creates division; then we, of course, are obviously direct contributors to that division. And we've got to try not to do that, but to be loyal, and not try to second-guess Mr. Armstrong in the government of God. We do not want a house divided, and we must not have that kind of house, and I'm sure that if our attitudes are right we will not.
Another little word of caution along that line is back in Proverbs the 13th chapter. "He that keeps his mouth keeps his life. But he that opens wide his lips shall have destruction." Brethren, I think that of all times this is a time to give very careful consideration to what we say and how we say it.
Our actions and our words and our works over the next several days, especially, are going to show God where a lot of us stand and whether we are willing to trust Mr. Armstrong and his judgment and his wisdom in these affairs, and whether or not we, as God's true servants, are willing to have faith in the leadership of Christ and stand fast in a time of trial and a time of test and a time of seige in the Work of God. Let's do that brethren and let's show loyalty in every way to Mr. Armstrong and to God's government.
I want to read something that I've just now received. This is a letter signed by Mr. Armstrong and the ink is fresh, I see. It's not a printed signature. I didn't know what was coming, I tell you before God and Christ. I had no idea anything was coming until this thing came up and I'm going to have to, I see, skimming this, do something that I've just been preaching to you about, and I will do it. He directs this letter to me in my office and says:
"Dear Rod: This is to inform you and to confirm the decision that I have made this day to disfellowship from the Worldwide Church of God and all its related organizations for cause... " I see he doesn't spend 15 minutes trying to convince me that he has the right to be the apostle or convince you, so I guess we'll have to have a little faith in Christ and in Mr. Armstrong, "...the following."
So you listen carefully, and all of you, as you know, are forbidden to associate with, and to eat with, or fellowship with, and if you're really loyal, you're not going out and commiserate with people and say: "Oh well, let's all be the underdog and yak it up and try to judge God's apostle." But these people are disfellowshipped by Mr. Herbert Armstrong directly, and by me personally, as I have to do it in my responsibility, and I'm sorry I've come into this office in a time of seige, but perhaps it had to be. I'll just tell you that in advance. It would be so much nicer to come into a peaceful time rather than warfare. We are in a war. Let's see whether we are faithful warriors. Continuing with Mr. Armstrong's letter:
"The following men are to be disfellowshipped this day. Mr. C. Wayne Cole, Mr. David Antion, Robert Kuhn and Benjamin Chapman." I understand now that Mr. Rader is here and is going to explain some of that to you directly for Mr. Armstrong.
"I further instruct you to mark these men before the Church for causing division and offenses contrary to the doctrine they and the Church have learned and to avoid them according to Romans 6:17. We are to mark them and to avoid them (Romans 6:17) and so we are to do this in the interest of doctrinal and administrative peace within the Church of God. Sincerely, in Jesus' name, Herbert W. Armstrong."
And so now, I'd like to introduce Mr. Rader and ask him to explain for Mr. Armstrong. I'm going to stand here with him, because I share this responsibility and may wish to make some final comments, but I'm going to ask Mr. Rader then, as I understand he's here, to come on out and to explain to you why Mr. Armstrong has chosen to make these decisions.