The world that calls itself Christian has some strange beliefs when compared with what Christ and the Apostles did and taught. Some of the Churches of God themselves may well not be recognised as a valid church by the early adherents of the faith. We should ask the question: “What would Christ say and do if he returned now?”
Let us examine some of the strange teachings that are being touted by the politicians of the various organisations calling themselves “Churches of God” and examine if they are really churches of God, and is what they are teaching idolatrous or erroneous in the biblical sense.
Some of the organisations calling themselves churches of God are clearly disqualified in that they do not follow the Ten Commandments, and in that sense they are not and never can be Churches of God. The easy test is the Fourth Commandment regarding the Sabbath Day. A church that works on the Sabbath and meets on Sunday is not and never could be a church of God. A major denomination numbering in the millions calls itself the Church of God but disqualifies itself simply through disobedience to the Sabbath issue.
That however is only one of Ten Commandments. Many people argue that they are correct and that the church can meet on Sunday and still be part of the true Church. The texts say if you love God and Christ, then keep the commandments. These are the saints or the elect of God namely those who keep the commandments of God and the testimony or faith of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:17; 14:12).
I was amused this week to read of an Alabama judge who was fighting to keep
a memorial in the Alabama courthouse that displayed the Ten Commandments and
the US Supreme Court ordered its removal.
In a way, they were more honest than he, in that they were concerned with the separation of church and state and the implications of the display of the monument in the courthouse. Neither they nor he keep the Ten Commandments and their lives reflect that idolatry. I am sure he is sincere in that he believes that they are the basis of the Judeo Christian ethic, but he does not know that his system in fact follows a pagan system in its entire religious system. They, and seemingly he, worship on Sunday, but also keep the pagan system of Christmas and Easter and deny the other aspects of the Law that depend upon the Ten Commandments. An examination of the paper Origins of Christmas and Easter (No. 235) will explain why such behaviour is idolatrous.
Many of the ministers of the Churches of God do not understand that they are idolatrous and for that reason are simply prevented from keeping the true feasts of God.
One is fascinated if not enraged by the simple dishonesty of the Churches of God in these last days. One should ask: “Why is it that only in the twentieth century did the church begin to follow the Jews in the Hillel system?” We know beyond doubt that the New Moons were kept according to the conjunction by the church and ancient Judaism during the Temple period. We know that the Church has kept the New Moons according to the conjunction for centuries and we also know that the New Moons cannot be kept under the Hillel system and that was the reason they were abandoned in the Churches of God under Armstrong.
Why did God not correct them even when they understood that Pentecost was in
error and had to be changed? The real reason is that they were not allowed to
keep the correct feasts because God will not let an organisation that is idolatrous,
and does not understand the nature of God and Jesus Christ in that relationship,
keep His feasts. It was for the reason of the rejection of the understanding
of the nature of God that Rabbinical Judaism, which was the successor of the
Pharisees, was simply not allowed to keep the calendar. Their postponements
were induced by the Host. They were given over to delusional thinking, because
they had rejected the Messiah and his place in the plan of salvation. The result
of that delusion was the Hillel calendar of 358 CE and subsequently.
For similar reason the Churches of God cannot break free of the delusion even today. An idolatrous position was introduced into the Churches of God by Herbert Armstrong which resulted in the creation of a Ditheist Godhead which made Jesus Christ a true God in the same way that the Father was true God. They always prayed to the Father and never to Christ but their theology was, and in the offshoots still is, based on the existence of two coeternal gods. These idolatrous ministers argue that Christ was eternal in the same way that the Father was eternal and that there were in effect two true Gods from before the beginning of the acts of the Father in the creation. I have even heard these ministers argue that the Father and Christ had a discussion as to who was to come to earth and die or be sacrificed and Christ decided that he would go and thus in some bizarre way became the son of the other true God. Now this idea is not only an erroneous idea originating within the Armstrong system it is a direct and serious breach of the First Commandment and is idolatry.
The Bible is very clear that no one has seen God at any time or heard his voice, and we have this on the authority of Christ himself (Jn 5:34). Man could not witness the full glory of Christ. Only Moses saw a partial glimpse of the glory of God in Christ at Sinai or he would have died. Christ reduced his power and glory when he appeared to mankind. No one has seen God or ever can see him. God dwells in unapproachable light and He alone is immortal or deathless (1 Tim. 6:16). The only born God or elohim dwelling in the bosom of the Father spoke (Jn. 1:18). That elohim was Christ. The entire elohim host are products of the power of the One True God who was the Father of us all. If Christ was the one True God then He could not die. It is not difficult to comprehend. The Bible uses the word Eloah for the One True God and uses the plural elohim for the gods who make up the Host and that includes Christ. When Elohim is used for the One True God, He is referred to as Ha Elohim or The God.
All of the Host when speaking with men act as messengers and in that sense they are malakim or angels. The paper The Angel of YHVH (No. 24) explains that point. The entire Church of God from the beginning explained that Christ was the elohim that appeared to the patriarchs, and he was the Great Angel that appeared to Moses and gave the Law at Sinai. Christ was that Rock that was in the wilderness with Israel and from which they ate and drank spiritually (1 Cor. 10:4). The Church at Rome wrote a treatise to the Emperor and also to the Roman Senate. The scribe or elder was Justin Martyr and his First Apology was directed to the Emperor and his Second Apology was directed to the Senate. They were written around 154 CE. Even though this church had begun to keep both Sunday and the Sabbath and the Feasts of God, they were still Unitarian and believed that there was only One True God and they believed in Jesus Christ whom He sent and that this understanding was eternal life (Jn 17:3). In the First Apology he explains that Christ was both elohim and the Angel of the Law at Sinai. In the Second Apology (Ch. 80) he explained that when one came across people who said that they were Christian but said that when they died they went to heaven they were not to be believed. They were not Christian. He placed reliance on the resurrection of the dead and the return of Christ to Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the Temple and restoration of the system there. Nothing has changed since then other than the fact that apostasy is still with us and that many of the ministry do not understand the original doctrines of the faith. The early creed of the Church shows us what was believed and these aspects are covered in the work The Original Doctrines of the Christian Faith (No. 88). Never at any time in the early Church was it ever believed that Christ was coeternal or coequal with the One True God who is the Father of us all. The paper Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127) will also explain the progression or deterioration of the doctrines. We know that the son of God came and gave us an understanding that we may know Him that is true and we are in Him that is true, even in His son Jesus Christ. This is the One True God and eternal life (1 Jn. 5:20). Trinitarians tried to make this out as referring to Christ as the True God but we are concerned in the text with the One True God and the fact that Christ came to give us an understanding of the One True God and we are able through that fact to be in Him and in Christ and this is eternal life. Christ had to have pre-existence to achieve that fact. This aspect is examined in the paper The Pre-existence of Jesus Christ (No. 243).
What does it mean to be idolatrous in the pursuit of the power of God in the Holy Spirit and the eternal life He promises in Jesus Christ?
There is one church mentioned in the message to the Church of Sardis, which is always taken by the Churches of God as being a message explained in eras. It is written: Unto the Angel of the Church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars, I know your works and you have the name that you are living but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found your works perfect before God (Rev. 3:1-2). This church at least gets a message and is told to repent or Christ will come upon them unexpectedly. This church in the last stages takes the name that it is “Living” but it is dead. This church is not acceptable to God. Only individuals from this system enter the kingdom of God. There were a few that had not defiled their garments in this entire system. There are a few that overcome and are made white. However, they are few in number and the church is called into severe criticism.
Even the name chosen by this organisation is a self-righteous condemnation of others and is a major reason for its rejection. There are a few things still not yet dead in this system and they must be strengthened.
There is a church that has chosen that name and demarcates the end of the Sardis system. It was just before this end period that the ditheist doctrine was developed among its like systems. In the early Sardis system, which was marked by the Seventh Day Baptists in the International Conference, the worship of the One True God was found and practised for some few hundred years. However, in the USA the Trinitarian system penetrated it and destroyed its theology. The same problem happened throughout the Churches of God derived from that system. From the USA came many quasi-Trinitarian doctrines that were borrowed from early Trinitarian theology. Some Churches decided that Binitarianism was the correct way to go; others decided on Ditheism. In each case, the Trinitarian elevation of Christ to the status of coeternal God was behind this error.
However the USA was not the only source of serious error in the Churches of God in the last days. The Sabbatarian church named the True Jesus Church in China actually reverted to an error of the early centuries and adopted Sabellianism. They taught that Jesus was God and was the Father and that there was no other being. Their solution to the problem of the Godhead was to eliminate the Father as a separate entity altogether.
Why did they all make errors of such magnitude? The real reason is that they did not educate their ministry widely enough. They did not know their religious history and thus be able to stand against error. That has been the downfall of the religious leaders in the USA, elsewhere and in China. The problem was exacerbated in China because the Communists suppressed religion. Thus it was easier to make theological errors in isolation.
However, the problem in each case lies in their failure to study and cease from sin and thus be led by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is very clear that there is only One True God. The radical Unitarians get away with the problem simply by denying that Christ had any pre-existence and thus he was merely a notional idea in the mind of God and thus accommodate Trinitarianism. It is in this way that another of the Churches of God, or perhaps a number of them, are divided over the Godhead and thus cannot mention it with perhaps as many as a third of their ministry as radical Unitarians with the rest divided between Trinitarianism and Ditheism or Binitarianism. It is important to study the doctrinal positions as shown in Socinianism, Arianism and Unitarianism (No. 185); Binitarianism and Trinitarianism (No. 76); and the Development of the Neo-Platonist Model (No. 17).
How long will they waver between opinions? If there is a Triune god or two gods then worship them, but if the Lord Eloah, the Elyon or Most High, who is Yahovah of Hosts, He is the One True God, then follow Him and Jesus Christ whom He sent.
When Christ comes at the order of God and intervenes in the affairs of men there will be a number of things happen. Error will be eliminated but so too will those who teach error. They will be called to repent and they will be shown the error of their ways.
Christ will establish the Ten Commandments and all the law and the prophets and the worship of the One True God will be established. Scripture will be implemented and prophecy will be established in fact and in truth.
The Bible says that the Sabbaths and the New Moons will be kept inviolate and all flesh will worship from one Sabbath to another and from one New Moon to another (Isa. 66:23). All flesh will keep the Feasts of the Lord. At Tabernacles each year the representatives of the nations will be sent to Jerusalem while the nation keeps the feasts or there will be no rain in due season and the people of that nation will die of the plagues of Egypt (Zech. 14:16-19). There will be no room for ambiguity in the worship of the One True God. When Jesus Christ eliminates all false worship on the planet he will hand the system over to the One True God who is the Father. For the end is when Christ has made an end of every rule and power and authority contrary to the will of God. He must reign until he puts all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When all things are put under Christ’s feet it is obvious that the exception is the One True God who placed him in that position of authority. When all things are subdued to God, Christ will then place himself under that authority so that God may be all in all. To this end Christ was risen and the resurrection of the dead is to occur (1 Cor. 15:20-28).
If God placed Christ in that position, and he retained it through obedience,
how then is he coequal and coeternal?
How can Christ be the son of a God with whom he existed before eternity and on whom he has no dependence for his existence? How can the term “father and son” have any meaning within language and relationships predicated upon that language and logic?
Where in the history of the Churches of God did this Binitarian and Ditheist error have any place? The answer is that it did not have a place except for the Modalism of the god Attis in Rome, and Adonis among the Greeks, and from which Binitarianism and its logical product Trinitarianism originated.
The simple process is that the ministry of Herbert Armstrong, among the offshoots of the WCG, worship Armstrong and not God. They elevate Christ not because they believe it necessarily, but because it was taught under his governance and it is necessary to prevent further split of the organisations coming from that source that they hold to this idolatry and thus are prevented from growing in the knowledge and truth of the faith.
How do the Adventists also justify their change from Unitarianism to Trinitarianism as late as 1978? Now they claim that Ellen G White actually hinted at being a Trinitarian in one or two verses of her writings. She was never a Trinitarian. In spite of all the erroneous and heretical things she said, she at least had that understanding correct. She distorted the understanding of the resurrection and the Millennium to justify her vegetarianism but she was not a Trinitarian, and Trinitarians were not in the majority or even in any substantive numbers in the Adventist system until after the death of Uriah Smith from 1931. Examine the papers The Millennium and the Rapture (No. 95) and the Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Historical Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170).
The Churches of God and the Adventist system have been taken over by Trinitarian opportunists and their doctrines are simply reflections of that error or adjustments in the case of Herbert Armstrong to more profitably appeal to that mass for adherents. It is a doctrinal error and the Churches of God will not be allowed to properly develop until it is rooted out.
Blind guides are no help to anyone. Truth stands alone. Ministers who cultivate travelling circuses for their own power and money have to lose their flocks before they can grow in the faith. Some travel from one church to another followed by mindless people simply out of concepts of loyalty or family rather than loyalty and service to the One True God. If they speak not according to the Law and the testimony there is no light in them (Isa. 8:20).
The first part of the Law is the First Great Commandment. We are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and all our minds and all our strength. On this Law hang all of the legislation of worship and all the teachings of the prophets and the Church concerning our purpose of existence and worship. The Second Great Commandment follows from this one and is subject to it.
If you follow a person who does not understand the nature of the One True God, then leave them and go to where the faith is centred on the worship of the One True God in the name of Jesus Christ and all prayer is to the One God who is the Eternal Father in the name of His son Jesus Christ.
The First Resurrection is the resurrection of the First Fruits and depends on your service and worship and faith in God though Jesus Christ. There are not Two True Gods. There is only One True God and Jesus Christ whom He sent (Jn 17:3), and if you do not understand that fact you do not yet have eternal life and will have to learn again in the Second Resurrection of the Dead.
You cannot love people by letting them remain in error in silence. You merely
place yourselves in jeopardy as well as they are. Serve God and love your fellow
men in truth and honesty.
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