PASADENA — The following is a transcript of a message from Herbert W. Armstrong over a direct telephone hookup from Tucson, Ariz., to the Pasadena church congregations Sabbath afternoon, Feb. 24.
Well, greetings friends and brethren in Pasadena. I want to tell you that God is still on His throne. Of course, you know that He won another battle for us this week. The receiver is gone. But the war is still on — it's not over yet. Our attorneys are doing a fine job, but the massive court action was started secretly without our knowledge and without the knowledge of our attorneys. Two judges were already committed to this thing, and once they have acted — and in this case two of them have been involved already — other judges on the state level, as I understand it, are inclined to render no decisions contrary to these other judges. Because they don't want to get in bad with one another. And usually they know one another. Perhaps they go to dinner together and all that sort of thing. But much as our attorneys are doing — and what they are doing is absolutely needful — that is just their part. But we have our part, and that is to look to Christ. Because this is, something that we are not going to win just by attorneys and by beating them in men's courts. We're going to have to rely on God to change the minds of some judge somewhere to turn this thing the right way. And He will do it. In the meantime, this may turn out to be a great deal of good for the Work. Remember that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28). And if we do, and this is a trial and a test on us to bring us back closer into God's grace, then we must be sure that we look to Christ first — the living Head of the Church, not to the attorneys — for the final decision from this persecution. Now brethren, we need to remember that God's people have always been persecuted. That may be one of the proofs that we are God's people. But we should not be like some whom I have known who go out seeking persecution, so they can claim they are God's people. We try to avoid it all we can. But we are getting plenty of it, and we are going to get more. Before God called the children of Israel under Moses, they were terribly persecuted under slavery by the Egyptian government. And that was a case of the government. They were the Israelites or the Israelis of that time. They were descendants of Abraham, and he was a man of God. Well, God called Moses to lead them. He led them out of that slavery, and then Moses was persecuted even by his own people. Later on, King David was persecuted a great deal and continually. The people of Judah were persecuted, and they were taken into slavery by government, by the Babylon government, or the Chaldean empire. In the book of Daniel we have the account of Daniel's three friends persecuted by the government of man, thrown into a burning, fiery furnace. And they didn't have attorneys there to rescue them. They relied on God. And they were actually thrown into the furnace heated seven times hotter than normal and still not even the clothes that were on them were scorched. God took care of them and performed a tremendous miracle. Now although Daniel himself had risen up, because of his abilities, till he became virtual prime minister — he was over all of the presidents and the others in the government of the Chaldean empire — yet he was persecuted for the very reason that he worshipped God three times a day. He was thrown into a lion's den. And he didn't have any attorneys to defend him. But God delivered him. And I hope that you will remember that, and that this is the history of the way it has been with God's people all along. Now, Jesus, the Son of God, was persecuted continually and finally put to death by government. And he said if they persecuted Him, they would certainly persecute us. On the other hand, He said He would always be with us. He would never leave or forsake us. And He is the one we have to look to now. The early Christians were tortured to death by the government of man. And I tell you, this thing of government — assailing God's people has been ever since Adam. You see, back in the time of Adam and Eve, they rejected God and looked to Satan and took to themselves the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. God, in effect, said to them, when He drove them out of the Garden, "All your progeny, all of the world that will come from you, I'm shutting them off from me. Except those that I shall call." Now God has called some. He has called a whole nation, ancient Israel. But every time God has called anyone the governments of man have persecuted them. Now God had said back there to Adam and Eve, "You go and your people, it will be the human race, form your own government. You don't want my government. Form your own religions. Form your own kind of society." And that's happened. We are in that kind of society today, and it is really swayed and influenced by Satan the devil. Now the early Christians, I said, were persecuted. God's Church will be persecuted again much greater than we are being persecuted right now. Though that will happen in a mass martyrdom in the yet future Laodicean era. And don't let anyone tell you that there are not eras of the Church. There are! And we're in an era where there are some of the conditions that are a little different than they were 200, 300 years ago or 2,000 or 1,900 years ago. But God's people always have suffered persecution. Now this world is Satan's world. And the persecution is always instituted from Satan. He hates God's people. He hates God's truth. He doesn't want us to believe it. And yet, Satan himself can do only what God allows. Now that means that this persecution could not have come on us if God had not allowed it. And God did allow it. God is letting us suffer this persecution, and we need to wake up and realize that. Why has God done it? Simply because the Church of the Philadelphia era was becoming lukewarm. We were becoming Laodicean. We were drifting apart from God. Some of our ministers even were watering down doctrines. We were getting more interested in the things of this world and the ways of this world than the things of God. Many were trying to see how close they could come to Satan's world and its ways and its ways of life and its life-styles. But just so they could still somehow get into the Kingdom of God. We needed an explosion. We needed an explosion to awaken us. To drive us to our knees. To drive us back to God. And to set God's Church back on the track. We've been doing that. Christ has been doing that now for almost a year. Without our impassioned, heart-rending prayers to set ourselves right first and then to set the Church right — and when you pray, pray that God will help you get yourself set right before you pray and ask Him to set the Church right, and deliver us from this persecution. Without that prayer and reliance on God, our attorneys could very well lose this whole war. We must get back into contact with God. We must rely on God more than the attorneys. The attorneys will do their part, and we should cooperate in whatever way we can. And the way you people all rallied when the receiver was trying to take over all of our property was just a wonderful example. You know how I thank all of you for it. Let me just say that it's an ill wind that doesn't blow some good, and God says that all things work together for good to those that love Him. I have before me the copy of a full-page advertisement that is soon going to appear in the Los Angeles Times, the Pasadena Star-News, the three newspapers up in San Francisco, papers like the Chicago Tribune, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, metropolitan papers over the country. The heading is very sensational: ALL CHURCH PROPERTY IN CALIFORNIA HAS BEEN CONFISCATED BY THE STATE. That in big type over the head of the whole page advertisement. Brethren, God has opened up to us by this very thing a new source or a new medium to reach the public with Christ's last message. And that is big full-page advertisements in leading newspapers around the United States. Maybe the 30 years I spent in advertising was not all for nothing after all. I think the next ad will be something like this: the headline — WHO IS LORD? CHRIST OR CAESAR? Because I heard on a religious broadcast this week where they were referring to this very thing that we are doing. This broadcast, by the way, came from over near the Atlantic Coast, and a man said, "Well, what this is all about," referring to our trouble, he said, "it's a matter of who is Lord. Is Christ Lord or is Caesar Lord?" Now God has given us something here to attract the public eye. We must take advantage of it. While this is hot we must get these ads out and start people thinking. And we will get the Gospel to perhaps many more people who might have heard the broadcast at one time or another, but like in the parable of the sower and the seed, like those that drop by the wayside, it never took any root, and they paid no attention to it and forgot all about it. Now maybe we'll get through to some of those people. I just wanted to tell you that and tell you that this can be made something to do a great work for us and for God's Work through us. And it's just like taking the lemons that people throw at you and turning them into lemonade. And we can certainly do that. But the first thing is to pray and rely on God and ask Him first to show where we are wrong. I'll do the same over here in Tucson. And in the meantime, I'll just say, God bless all of you. I don't want to take up too much time because just hearing something coming over a telephone without seeing anybody is not very much of a church service. So I will break off here. I just wanted to give you that hopeful note. That we're taking advantage of this. The Work is going to go forward as never before. God is bringing us together as we've never been before. We are now in unity. And we're going forward full speed ahead!