THE LIVING JESUS CHRIST, Head of God's Church, has set God's Church in order - setting it back on the track of God's form of organization.
To understand WHY and HOW, all members need to read carefully, and seriously, every word of this article - starting at the BEGINNING of the present era of the Church of God.
God began revealing His TRUTH to me over 50 years ago. But He did not reveal it all at once. First He opened my eyes to the fact that the churches calling themselves Christian did not take their teachings from the Bible - but in many, perhaps most - instances were teaching precisely opposite to God's Word.
For example, I had been reared in a respected Protestant denomination to believe I was an immortal soul, and that on death I would "pass away" either to hell, where I would be tormented by burning forever, yet never being burned up - or I would go to heaven.
It was a rude awakening indeed! God was calling me for a PURPOSE, and He started at the outset by erasing from my mind all the false teachings I had accepted without question.
But God did not reveal to me ALL of His truth at once.
At the time we were living in Portland, Ore. - 1926-27. I had answered my wife's challenge by saying, "All of these churches can't be wrong - and they get their teachings from the Bible." Therefore I assumed that the Bible said, "Thou shalt observe Sunday." But I soon learned, on looking into the Bible for myself, that the Bible taught the very opposite - and that all these churches were wrong!
God brought me through the most traumatic experience of my life up to that time. I was brought to see that everything I had been taught about God and His truth was false. God swept my mind clean of all these false teachings.
My original six-months' in-depth study and research proved to me: 1)the existence of God, and 2) the infallibility of His Word as originally inspired.
It also brought me to complete repentance and FAITH in Jesus Christ. At that time, the spring of 1927, I made the complete surrender to God and gave my entire life, literally, to God - as I then said, "IF He could use it." He did use it, and for this past half century my mind and attitude has been subjected to God, as He has used me as His instrument.
However, this six months' study that led me to conversion and baptism, brought some questions. I was SURE of God, of Christ and of the authority of the Bible.
"But," I asked myself, "where is God's own TRUE Church?" I read that the gates of the grave would never prevail against God's Church.
Of all the writings I could find, the one church having the most biblical truth was the Church of God, Seventh Day, with headquarters in Stanberry, Mo. My wife and I began fellowshipping with their Oregon members, but not joining their church. I was ordained June, 1931, by the Oregon Conference of the Church of God, which had broken off from the Stanberry-based church.
In 1933 - or it might have been later, 1932 - the leader of the church was ousted by one vote. His name was A.N. Dugger. He then "reorganized" the church with what he called "the BIBLE form of organization" and started a new church with headquarters at Salem, W. Va. About half the Stanberry-based members went into this new Dugger church. But we in the Oregon Conference, with whom my wife and I were fellowshipping, knew that definitely the new Dugger-type organization was NOT the Bible form of organization.
Church in Eugene
It was in August, 1933, that the present Worldwide Church of God was formed in Eugene, Ore. It resulted from an evangelistic campaign of six days a week for six weeks, which I held just outside of Eugene. God had called me as pastor - a fact never questioned. As proved "by the fruits" of the past 45 years, God had committed to me THE GREAT COMMISSION - to take Christ's Gospel Message of the Kingdom of God to ALL THE WORLD.
But though God had called and chosen me as His apostle, I was nevertheless HUMAN, and, as I said above, I did not learn ALL of God's Truth at once. I had, before this, come to understand the basic "roots and trunk of the tree" of Truth, but God has continued, through the years to reveal more of His truth, even up to the present.
But in the matter of GOD'S form of church organization, we all, in 1933, had become confused. We in Oregon knew that what A.N. Dugger had devised was NOT the Bible pattern of church organization. This I did know definitely: that God's form of organization was from the TOP down. The top authority was GOD, the Father. Next under Him was the living Jesus Christ, the HEAD OF THE CHURCH OF GOD. Next under Christ was the apostle whom HE CHOSE and used. It was the living CHRIST who built God's Church of today, and GOD'S WORK, using me as His human instrument. That fact IS UNQUESTIONED IN THE CHURCH TODAY, AS EXEMPLIFIED BY THE FRUITS.
As to Church organization and government, I appointed, in Eugene, Ore., under me, an elder and two deacons, this was strictly according to God's biblical form.
THE WORK of God, which the Church had been added to back up and assist, was started by myself, with only my wife as full time assistant. I started the radio broadcasting program in January, 1934, and The Plain Truth, in February, 1934. The Good News, as the organ for our members, had started earlier in 1933.
The Work GREW. God continued to ADD to His Church such as HE called to back up the GREAT COMMISSION, and to develop the godly, holy and righteous CHARACTER to qualify them to be made kings and priests UNDER CHRIST after His return to earth as KING of Kings at the beginning of the millenial rule.
For 35 years the WORK OF GOD grew steadily at the rate of approximately 30 percent a year. I do not know of any organization, secular or of God, that has shown so remarkable growth, starting from NOTHING financially (though we started with something greater - FAITH in the living Christ HEAD of the Church and the WORK). This Work was built literally on FAITH. The living Christ blessed it richly, even though there was carnal opposition and persecution from the beginning.
Read carefully now. As the Work grew, so did the human organization to work UNDER me in getting God's Work done. Then, after this 35-year unmatched GROWTH with God's blessing, I made a basic mistake, which I did not then realize was contrary to GOD'S form of organization. It was a detail that NONE in the Church realized was unscriptural.
It happened this way: As the work continued growing and growing, especially after the foundation of Ambassador College, my younger son, Garner Ted, had become converted. Mr. Roderick C. Meredith had entered Ambassador College as a student beginning its third year, fall of 1949. He was developing as a leader under me. He saw the rapid strides my son Garner Ted was making at the time, spiritually. My elder son, Richard D. (Dick), was growing spiritually too, but at a slower more steady rate.
Mr. Meredith began to urge me to make Garner Ted vice president under me, in the Work. I thought it a good suggestion. Along about 1956 and thereafter, Garner Ted showed aptitude for broadcasting and began occassional broadcasting.
Meanwhile I was going in person, with our advertising agent of that time, to managers of radio stations all over the United States, especially the major 50,000-watt stations, obtaining time for a DAILY half-hour program. This is what, more than any other physical means we used, BUILT THE WORK - kept it growing 30 percent a year!
Style of delivery
In those days Ted followed his father's style of delivery, and listeners could not tell whether it was Garner Ted or myself speaking. He always, in those days, ended the program by saying, "This is Garner Ted Armstrong, speaking for my father, Herbert W. Armstrong." At first, Ted did only a few of the programs. But, as more and more of my time was consumed in visiting station managers, I turned more and more of the broadcasting over to my son.
Meanwhile, my elder son, Dick, had grown spiritually and in ability until I thought within myself that perhaps I should have made him vice president instead of Ted. Dick died in the summer of 1958 as the result of an automobile crash while on a baptizing trip. Meanwhile I had made Mr. Meredith second vice president.
In 1973 I wrote a revised introduction to the sixth edition of my autobiography. After 1969-70 the income had begun to fall off, and the membership had slowed significantly. Also we were beginning to cut back on the number of radio stations. Garner Ted was producing documentary, secular and political-oriented telecasts. Nevertheless, writing of the first 35 years of this latter day WORK OF GOD, ending 1969, I wrote some astonishing FACTS of that 35 years.
State of the Work
Read this carefully. It is IMPORTANT, if you are to understand the STATE OF THE WORK as of TODAY! Here are excerpts from it:
Quotes from that astonishing FACTUAL introduction: "From beginnings humble and small without parallel, to the magnitude of today's worldwide impact is the story of GROWTH UNBELIEVABLE - it is the incredible story of something never done before - NEVER DONE THIS WAY."
Continuing: "Every phase of this globe-girding Work has been something altogether unique - a first - the blazing of a new trail. ...The Worldwide Church of God, behind these global enterprises, is altogether UNIQUE on the earth - practicing as it does the REVEALED WAYS [emphasis here added] of the living Creator God."
Let me interject here to say that, although I did not fully realize it at the time, my son and those around him DID NOT FULLY AGREE WITH THOSE WAYS - and they were being gradually departed from.
Speaking of GOD'S WAYS of administration, the introduction continues: "This entire Work has belied all traditional experience. It has reversed accepted (worldly) procedures... This, truly, is one of the most incredible success stories of our time. There is a very significant reason. For it is the story of what THE LIVING GOD CAN Do - and has done - through a human instrument, called and chosen by HIM - whose eyes He opened to astonishing TRUTH - one HE reduced to humble obedience, yielded in faith, and DEDICATED TO GOD'S WAYS!"
Christ built Work
Now to the CENTRAL TRUTH leading into today's state of the Work. Brethren, READ THIS SERIOUSLY! Jesus Christ, the living HEAD of God's Church, started this present era of His Work through me. I DID NOT BUILD THE WORK OR THE CHURCH - the living Christ built it, using me as His instrument and His apostle.
But I made the mistake, unrealizing that mistake, of allowing an office of authority to be injected BETWEEN ME AND THE MINISTRY AND CHURCH!
For the first 35 years of this Work, I was the sole human in supreme command, UNDER CHRIST. There was opposition and persecution - from without - but THERE WAS NO QUESTION OF WHO WAS IN CHARGE! During those 35 years the Church and the Work GREW AND GREW AND GREW! It had Christ's BLESSING!
I knew that GOD'S FORM OF ORGANIZATION IS FROM THE TOP DOWN. I DID NOT REALIZE that allowing an office of authority to be interjected BETWEEN me and the Church was contrary to God's form of human organization.
WHAT RESULTED? Great confusion grew in the Church - especially in and around headquarters. "WHO IS REALLY IN AUTHORITY?" many wondered, perplexed. The Work STOPPED GROWING.
But at last God has opened my eyes to a more detailed knowledge of HIS FORM OF HUMAN ORGANIZATION.
Now I want to take you direct to GOD'S WORD!
The first human organizational procedure there recorded is that of Moses. The PEOPLE did not elect Moses - GOD CHOSE HIM! Under Moses were captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, over fifties and over tens.
BUT NO ONE was interjected in authority BETWEEN Moses and the captains of thousands! There were 600,000 men. Men and women approximately 1,200,000. Adding children, there were at least THREE MILLION Israelites. That means a minimum of three to four thousand captains under Moses, and NO MAN BETWEEN THEM AND MOSES!
Once Moses' brother Aaron and sister Miriam challenged Moses' authority and attempted to interject themselves between Moses and the people. Got STERNLY REBUKED THEM and punished Miriam!
Another time Korah attempted to challenge Moses' authority and step in between him and the People. GOD PUNISHED HIM by causing him and his family to he swallowed up by the earth!
After Moses God ruled Israel through Joshua, whom GOD had chosen (not the people), then by judges whom God appointed and used, then by Eli, then Samuel. Both Eli's sons and Samuel's son were subversive to God's rule, but NEVER ALLOWED TO TAKE OVER AUTHORITY!
Under Samuel THE PEOPLE wanted to become SECULAR, and have a king like the pagan nations. But God appointed their king - Saul. Saul came to have an evil spirit, and his dynasty stopped with him.
Next God sent Samuel to the House of Jesse where GOD had chosen the next king. Samuel and the people wanted Jesse's elder sons but God rejected them. HE CHOSE DAVID.
David came to rule, but he ruled under God, and THERE WAS NO OFFICE OF AUTHORITY BETWEEN HIM AND THE PEOPLE.
Two of David's sons sought to TAKE OVER the rule, but GOD DID NOT ALLOW IT! God had chosen Solomon.
Now come to the time of Christ. Jesus called and trained apostles, but PETER was in authority next under CHRIST. At the conference at Jerusalem to settle a dispute at Antioch (Acts 15), it was PETER who rose up and settled the dispute (Acts 15:7). James was the pastor of the headquarters church, and for reasons of protocol, James made official Peter's decision (verses 13-21). Paul, specially called and chosen by Christ, was given the rule of administering the Work of the Gospel to the Gentiles, and Peter "to the circumcision" (Galatians 2:7-8). But NO ONE HAD AUTHORITY UNDER THEM, able to cut off the chain of authority at that point.
God blessed Work
As long as GOD'S APOSTLE was acknowledged by all as supreme in authority UNDER THE LIVING CHRIST, GOD BLESSED HIS WORK, AND IT GREW 30 percent a year for 35 years. After an office was allowed to be interjected BETWEEN me and the Church, GOD WITHDREW HIS BLESSING, and the GROWTH STOPPED!
Brethren, the Head of this Church, JESUS CHRIST, has now, through me, ELIMINATED THE OFFICE OF EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, which was AN UNSCRIPTURAL OFFICE. Indeed the title of vice president (and we finally came to have several of them), went to the heads of too many and proved harmful to the Work. Therefore, through me, the living CHRIST has abolished the worldly and secular title of vice president!
Work not finished
JESUS CHRIST, through me, has now set the Church and God's WORK back on the track so that, once again, CHRIST is the living HEAD of the Church and Work!
One more point needs clarification in the minds of you brethren. Some have said, "Well, WHO is going to succeed as HEAD of the Church if Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong dies soon?" Rumors have gone out that I may not live much longer. Brethren, THERE IS NO INSTANCE IN THE BIBLE WHERE GOD CHOSE A MAN FOR A COMMISSION AND THEN LET HIM DIE BEFORE THAT COMMISSION WAS FINISHED! The Work of the GREAT COMMISSION, which God committed to me, has not, in my judgment, been FINISHED!
Moses was started on his commission at age 80. He continued for 40 years to age 120. He had led the children of Israel to the promised land, though they had not yet entered it. Moses' commission was finished. But in all these years, Moses' natural force of mind and spirit HAD NOT ABATED (Deuteronomy 34:7).
It is not for me to choose one to succeed me in office. CHRIST is the LIVING HEAD of the Church. Do you TRUST HIM?
He has put God's Church back on GOD'S track. Praise God for it! Expect the blessing of God to step His Work forward once again as in the days prior to 1969.
By Herbert W. Armstrong Good News Magazine June 1978
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