The World Tomorrow. The Worldwide Church of God presents Herbert W. Armstrong, internationally recognized ambassador for World Peace, visiting prominent leaders around the globe, discussing the cause of world problems, and proclaiming the good news of The World Tomorrow. Ladies and gentlemen, Herbert W. Armstrong.
Many have wondered, where is the original true church today? Where is the original true church today? Now, Jesus Christ had said when He was on earth, "I will build my church," and He did build it. But He didn't say churches. He didn't say many different denominations, everyone speaking something different. He said one church, and it is one body, and the Bible says they are all speaking the same thing. There is no division. Well, Jesus built it. What has happened to it? Where is it today?
There's a prophecy in II Thessalonians, the second chapter, and verse three (II Thessalonians 2:3), "Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day", the second coming of Christ, "shall not come except there be a falling away first", a falling away from the church, not that the church would fall away, but that many people would fall away from the church.
Now, the great commission that Jesus Christ gave to the church is found in Mark, the 16th chapter (Mark 16:15). He said, "Go, ye, into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." But what gospel, what gospel was the church to preach? In Mark, the first chapter (Mark 1:14-15), you find that gospel, the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. "Now after that, John the Baptist is speaking of, was put into prison. Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel". But what gospel? Preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of God, "and saying the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand". And then he said, "Repent, ye, and believe the gospel."
How can people believe the gospel if they haven't heard it? And now I want to show you, my friends, that that gospel has not been preached for 1900 years until this program went on the air, believe it or not. That is true. By about 53 A.D., Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia (Galatians 1:6-7), "I marvel that you were so soon removed from him that called you unto another gospel." Already, the true gospel was being suppressed, which is not another, but there would be some that would trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ, the gospel of Christ. That's not a gospel of men about Christ, the gospel of Christ.
Now in II Corinthians, the 11th chapter (II Corinthians 11:4), the Apostle Paul said, "For if he that cometh preach another Jesus", a false Jesus, a Jesus that did away with his father's commandments of Jesus that did just the opposite from what the Jesus that you read of in the Bible did do "or if you receive another spirit which you have not received or another gospel." So, he talked about receiving another gospel, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ" (II Corinthians 11:13-15), claiming to be disciples or ministers of Christ, "And no Marvel, for Satan himself is transformed as an angel of light", pretending to be an angel of light. "Therefore, it is no great thing if his minister, Satan's ministers, be transformed as the ministers of righteousness". So that was the prophecy of what was to happen and of the falling away. That was to come.
Now, the 24th chapter of Matthew in verses four and five (Matthew 24:4-5). And Jesus said to his own disciples at that time, "Take heed that no man deceive you." He was talking about their time in the first century, "For many shall come in my name saying that I am Christ". Many would come in Jesus' name, posing as His ministers and saying that Jesus is the Christ and shall deceive the many. That has happened, and it has continued down to this day. Many are preaching about Christ, saying that He is the Christ and still deceiving the many.
Now, how could that be? They have been preaching a different gospel altogether. It happened the true gospel was suppressed, and the world began to hear a different gospel altogether. They began to hear a gospel of men about Christ, not the gospel of Christ, the gospel of men about Christ, but the gospel of Christ was about the Kingdom of God. That's the gospel He proclaimed.
In the 12th chapter of the Book of Revelation, and in verse nine (Revelation 12:9), "And the Great Dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world". So, the whole world has been deceived, and they've been deceived by a false gospel of men about Christ.
Now, what happened then to the true church, false churches rose, many of them, many denominations. You find them all over the world today. The true church was a persecuted church. Jesus called it the Little Flock. It was a small church, not a great big church. It was a small and a persecuted church.
Now, in verse 13, the same chapter, the 12th chapter of Revelation (Revelation 12:13), we read of that church. "And when the dragon", I just read to you, the dragon was Satan, "the devil saw that he was cast under the earth. He persecuted the woman or church which brought forth the man-child. Speaking of the true one, true church persecuted then by Satan the devil.
Now, Jesus foretold in the history of the true church and that whole panorama, the history of the church described by Jesus Christ in his own words in the second and the third chapters of the Book of Revelation. And he used the seven churches of Asia Minor there as a picture and a type of the seven different eras of the church that were to follow at that time.
The Book of Revelation records seven messages to seven churches that existed in Asia Minor towards the end of the first century A.D. These churches, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, were located along one of the mail routes of the old Roman Empire. Riders would follow the route, carrying messages from town to town. The messages to the seven churches have words of both encouragement and correction, and they clearly show the dominant characteristics of each of the congregations at that time. But these messages were intended for a wider audience than the Christians in the small towns.
They are a series of remarkable prophecies by which the future of the true church was predicted in outline form from the day it began on Pentecost 31 A.D., until the second coming of Christ. The history of the church would fall into seven distinct eras, each with its own strengths and weaknesses and its own special trials and problems. Just as a message could pass along the mail route from Ephesus to Laodicea, so would the truth of God be passed from era to era? It was like a relay race in which the baton is passed from runner to runner, each one doing his part until the finish line is reached. It has not been an easy race.
God's servants often had to run in the face of ridicule and persecution as they strived to keep alive the truth that had been entrusted to them through the centuries, the church pressed onward. And during the trials of the moment, always looking forward to the day when their faith and courage would be rewarded.
Now, from the year of about 50 A.D. and the letter that I just read to you from Galatians, the first chapter is written about 53, and from about that time for 100 years until 150 A.D. It seems that practically all the history of the church and the history about the church and what happened to it, of this one true original church was lost. I call it the last century of history.
Scholars and church historians recognize that events in the early Christian church between 50-150 A.D. can only be seen in vague outline as if obscured by a thick mist.
The noted English scholar Samuel G. Green, in "A Handbook of Church History", wrote, 'The 30 years which followed the close of the New Testament Canon and the destruction of Jerusalem are in truth the most obscure in the history of the church.' In the course of Christian history, William J. McLaughlin wrote, 'But Christianity itself had been in the process of transformation as it progressed and at the close of the period was, in many respects, quite different from the Apostolic Christianity.' In history, the Christian church, Philip Schaff wrote, 'The remaining 30 years of the first century are involved in mysterious darkness illuminated only by the writings of John. This is a period of church history about which we know least and would like to know most.'
But if we look closely through this mist, we can begin to see what was happening. The world in which Christ founded His church was the world of the Roman Empire, the greatest and most powerful empire that had ever existed. It stretched from Britain to the far reaches of modern-day Turkey, encompassing peoples from many different backgrounds and cultures under one system of government. Rome's ruling hand was firm, but the subject peoples enjoyed considerable freedom within the compass of Roman law. Providing all citizens and conquered peoples paid due homage to the Roman Emperor, they were also allowed to practice their religious beliefs and worship the gods of their ancestors.
After the day of Pentecost, the Apostles began to follow Christ's instruction to go to all the world preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Once Christianity spread from Judea to the gentile lands to the north, it began to encounter those who practiced the pagan religions of Babylon, Persia, and Greece. Many who called themselves Christians had not been truly converted. But throughout this period, all who called themselves Christians suffered greatly from the Roman authorities because they refused to worship the emperor.
The Jews of Palestine finally rose in rebellion against the Roman authorities. The rebellion was suppressed, and Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70. A small number of true Christians in Jerusalem fled over the mountains to the safety of Pella.
Sometime during those first two centuries, the baton was passed from the Ephesian era to the people that God had called to the Smyrna era of His church - powerless, often persecuted, and rejected as heretics. The world lost sight of them. Instead, there emerged from the last century, a church that was steadily growing in popularity but growing further away from the gospel that Jesus taught.
Persecution continued at various times under the Romans until the fourth century when Constantine recognized the church as an official religion of the Empire. But the church that he recognized was by now very different from the church that Jesus founded. Once Constantine recognized them, this church threw renewed energy into taking its message to the world. Teachers and preachers went to all parts of the Roman Empire with a message about Christ. Thousands, maybe millions, heard this gospel and believed it. But it was not the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Emperor Constantine died in A.D. 337. Just over 300 years after Christ was crucified, he had given his blessing to a church that claimed to be the one that Christ founded. Now that they were free from fear of oppression, the persecuted became persecutors. Those who dared to disagree with their doctrine were branded as heretics worthy of punishment.
In A.D. 365, the Council of Laodicea wrote in one of its most famous Canons, "Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day rather honoring the Lord's Day. But if any shall be found to be Judaize, let them be anathema from Christ."
The small remnant of Christians of the Smyrna era fled once more to seek the religious freedom they needed to practice their beliefs. And so, the Baton passed from the Smyrna Christians to those of the Pergamos era. These had been called to carry the truth through one of history's most difficult periods—the Middle Ages. The power and influence of the great universal church spread far and wide, driving those who clung to the truth of God ever further into the wilderness.
1000 years after Jesus had founded His church, the exhausted remnant of the Pergamos era handed over the Baton. The Thyatira era got off to a vigorous start, preaching repentance throughout the alpine valleys of southern France and northern Italy. Many heard and were converted. The religious authorities quickly reacted to this challenge. Leaders of the true church were arrested, some were martyred.
After the death of its first leaders, the church went into a temporary decline but emerged once more under the dynamic leadership of Peter Waldo. For several years in the 12th century, they flourished in the alpine valleys, preaching what truth they had. Booklets and articles were written and copied by hand. This was still before the days of printing. Once again, persecution followed as the full force of the inquisition was felt in the peaceful valleys that had once provided a safe haven for the work of God.
Meanwhile, the world was changing. Printing had been invented, and knowledge began to be increased. The Protestant Reformation plunged Europe into religious conflict as religious wars swept across the European continent. During the Middle Ages, many refugees fled to the relative safety and tolerance of England. Among them were members of the true church. They brought with them their doctrines and beliefs, especially the knowledge of the Sabbath. The strict Sunday-observing Puritans resisted. But in spite of a rising tide of opposition.
In the early 17th century, there were several small Sabbath-keeping congregations in England. Jesus was raising up the fifth era of his church, Sardis. Protestant England became increasingly intolerant of dissenters, including Sabbath-keepers. The true church in England withered and all but died out. But across the ocean, men were beginning to discover a new world.
Stephen Mumford, a member of a Sabbath-keeping church in London, left England for Newport, Rhode Island, in 1664. Finding none who kept the Sabbath, Mumford and his wife began to fellowship with the Baptist church in Newport. Several members of the Sunday-keeping congregation became convinced that they too should observe the Sabbath. They became the first Sabbath-keeping congregation in America. Others joined them in their belief as God began to call more to his work in the new world.
By the mid-1800s, Sabbath-keeping congregations could be found throughout the Midwest. They moved their headquarters to Marion, Iowa, and then to Stanberry, Missouri. A magazine, "The Bible Advocate", was published, and their efforts bore some fruit. Small congregations sprung up across the nation.
And so it was that sometime in the 19th century, a small congregation of the true church of God was established in the peaceful Willamette Valley in Oregon. They were farmers without formal education. They lacked trained ministers to teach and guide them, but they had the name Church of God, and they faithfully kept the Sabbath day. God's church had come a long way across the turbulent centuries. Since the day of Pentecost, it was weak and lacked influence. Years of persecution and compromise had taken their toll. Much truth had been lost, but they had stayed the course in the Willamette Valley, they waited.
It was nearly time for the Baton to change again into the hands of those God would call to do his end-time work. As mankind neared the end of 6000 years of Satan's misrule of the earth, God's church had to be ready for a new and critical phase of the work. Jesus had prophesied that before the end could come, the true gospel of the kingdom must be preached to all the world as a witness. As man's knowledge increased, the technology began to be developed by which a voice could indeed cry out and be heard around the world.
And so, as God had raised up Elijah and John the Baptist as his special messengers, he now raised up a man to work in the power and spirit of Elijah, preparing the way for Christ's second coming.
So now, where is the true church today? Where is that church today? You have to know what to look for, to know what is the true church, and even in history, and it has taken many, many months and many years of research to give you the history that we have just shown you. Now, 12 times in the New Testament, the church's name is given, it is the Church of God. It is God's church, not man's church, not named after a man, not named after the type of organization of the church as churches are named today.
Now, in Revelation 12 and verse 17, we read (Revelation 12:17), "And the dragon was wrath with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed who keep the Commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." The true church, then, not only is one that is named the Church of God, but it is one that is keeping and obeying the Commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Now, Jesus Christ is the Word of God, and the Bible is the written word of God. And the true church is keeping his Commandments and believing the Bible and believing what the Bible says. There is only one such church on earth today.
And I came among that church, that little remnant of those people that have been described to you up in the Willamette Valley in Oregon back in the year of 1927 at about the time of my own conversion, and from that remnant has grown now, a church that is worldwide.
It has taken advantage of modern methods of disseminating the gospel and all of the modern mechanisms of radio, of television, and the printing press, and has grown worldwide into the "Worldwide Church of God". Now, we publish many magazines, but the one that I want to mention is called "The Plain Truth." It's one of the world's largest mass circulation magazines, and it is, I believe one of the finest magazine published on Earth today.
Now, just in closing, I want to offer you one booklet: "What Is The True Gospel?" The world has lost the true gospel. That's where it went astray in the first place. It went to a different gospel. Here is just a short booklet: "What Is The True Gospel?" You need to understand that because the world has been deceived with a false gospel about Christ. Instead of the gospel of Christ, which is the gospel which Christ brought, Christ was a messenger who brought that message from God. He was the messenger. People preach about the messenger today, but they forget to preach anything about His message.
Now, here is a copy of the latest number, at this time, of "The Plain Truth" magazine. The cover article is "Yes, there is life out there." You'll be interested in that. Then, there is another article, "Why America Has Won Its Last War." Now, that's a rather shocking article. That's an astounding article. You need to read it, and you need to know what it says. Here is one on the "First Reich in Germany". It's a history of Europe and of the church in Europe. Many articles explaining world news and the meaning behind world news. What does it all mean? Where is it leading in the light of biblical prophecy? Millions of people are reading it. Circulation is now over 6 million.
Now, I'd like to send it to you, and there is no request for money. It's absolutely free. There's no subscription price to "The Plain Truth," no price on the booklets, no request for money. There isn't going to be any. I think you'll find that's quite different. I don't know any other program that is using that type of policy. I hope you will notice the difference.
Just send your request to me, Herbert W Armstrong Pasadena, California. That's really all the address you need. Herbert W Armstrong Pasadena, California and the zip code is 91123. Or better yet. Go now to the telephone and a free telephone call and call 800-423-4444. That's 800-423-4444. Now, if you live in California, Alaska or Hawaii, then you call a different number. Collect, we'll pay for the call, call collect. Area code 213-304-6111. That's area code 213-304-6111. If the lines are busy, keep trying because many are calling and we have many people waiting to keep your call. So, until next time, Herbert W Armstrong, goodbye friends.
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