"Just What IS an APOSTLE?"

Chapter 8

The End-Time Apostle

In preceding chapters we have seen that the True Church of God must remain subject to the specific apostle God sends to them – the one who first illuminates them with the Truth of God’s Word. We have also seen how, even after the death of such an apostle, God expects His people to remember the Truth their apostle taught and remain subject to the spiritual heritage he left behind. Doing this gives protection against false teachers.

At the end-time, prophecy indicates that a very special apostle is to be “sent” by God. This individual is destined to restore “all things” (Matt 17:11). Whatever “all things” may mean, it certainly must include all spiritual foundations the people of God will need at that crucial time. Yet scripture also indicates that the level of false teachers is set to rise disproportionately as Satan sees his age drawing to a close (Matt 24:24). Correctly understanding and appreciating the role of the end-time apostle therefore becomes progressively more important as we approach the end of this age. It will help each of us to recognise those prophesied false teachers as we come across them.

The Elijah to Come:

In describing John the Baptist, Christ portrays John as a type of one prophesied to be “sent” just before His second coming. This is indicated when Christ says, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come already” (Matt 17:11). The tenses used here show two separate fulfilments. In addition to being “sent” (the meaning of the title apostle), Christ also describes the role of John the Baptist as “more than a prophet” (Matt 11:9). It therefore follows that the one fulfilling the future role would also hold a similar office and the only office greater than a prophet is that of an apostle (I Cor 12:28).

The primary job of this individual is to prepare an elect people of God as part of the very living Temple to which Christ returns as King of kings (Mal 3:1). This requires teaching them the specific revelation God restores – illuminating them with Truth for the first time. If such a people do not exist, God says He will destroy the earth (Mal 4:6). However, it is clear that an elect people will be present, as Matthew tells us: for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt 24:22). The fact “the elect” are prophesied to exist indicates that this apostle has appeared on earth prior to this time – restoring all things God specifies they will need for their preparation.

When talking of this individual, please notice that he is an individual – as was John the Baptist. There is no indication he is linked to someone else such as one of the two witnesses found in Revelation 11. The prophecy also does not talk of a collective church group. God says, “Behold, I will send my messenger [singular – not plural]” (Mal 3:1), and “this is he [singular] that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one [singular] crying in the wilderness” (Matt 3:3). What we must look for is an individual, who prepares God’s people, just before the end of this age. The prophecies are very clear.

Viewing Time Correctly:

To correctly understand such prophecies, it is important we appreciate the way God views time and then use a similar view ourselves. Peter tells us that to God “a thousand years is as one day” (II Pet 3:8). We are also told in the same section “that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Pet 3:3-4). The 1,000 years for a day principle seems to be an antidote that God gives us to counteract such sarcasm.

The early Church also understood this principle. Notice what Edward Gibbon writes in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol II: "The ancient and popular doctrine of the millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of the creation had been finished in six days, their duration, in their present state … was fixed to six thousand years … succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years" (Page 100 –101).

When we gauge the history of man using this yardstick – with 6,000 years being a working week – a startling picture emerges: Most things of any significance seem to occur during the daylight portion of Friday – the time that corresponds to the preparation day for the Sabbath Millennium. Let us examine three such areas that directly relate to the end-time apostle:

Early that “Friday morning”: In 1525 William Tyndale produced a translation of the Bible into the English language. At the same time, through the invention of printing he was able to disseminate this edition of the scriptures to the public at large – giving previously unheard of access to the Word of God. As Tyndale famously said to a visiting priest, “If God spare my life, before very long I shall cause a plough boy to know the scriptures better than you do!” This universal access to scripture was crucial for the end-time apostle to effectively accomplish his job. Much of Tyndale’s work survives to this day within the King James Bible.

Around “mid-day” that “Friday”: In 1815, the industrial revolution began. This also was a crucial event. Daniel predicted that at “the time of the end many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Dan 12:4). In modern vernacular these qualities are “communication, and science.” They virtually define our world today, but their roots go back historically to the industrial revolution.

Between “2pm and 3pm” that “Friday”: From around 1900 – the two qualities of communication and science began to literally explode within our world. The telephone; wireless; powered flight; mass-produced automobiles; the invention of pulp paper; commercial electricity; the theory of the atom – all began at this time. The “end-time” itself really began from this point!

Daniel was told, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Dan 12:4). This time – beginning around 1900 – is the time to begin looking for the words of Daniel to be revealed as predicted! This time – a lifetime beginning around 1900 – is the time in which we also need to look for the prophesied end-time apostle!

Unprecedented Apostasy:

When Christ prophesies that “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matt 17:11), He is actually giving us a new prophecy. This restoration of Truth is particularly important as it also lays the groundwork for two other vital prophecies to take place. Both are linked to the revealed Truth the end-time apostle is destined to restore:

Within II Thessalonians there is prophesied a great apostasy, or falling away from God’s Truth, that must take place just before the end: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away [grk apostasia] first” (II Thes 2:3). This apostasy cannot be referring to what happened during the rise of the Catholic Church in the first century, as the apostasy in question is specifically tied to the end-time (verse 1), not an event 2000 years before. Paul tells us that it will be one of two crucial signals indicating that the entire age of man is about to close. Until the apostasy occurs, he tells us, we should not to be “soon shaken in mind … that the day of Christ is at hand” (verse 2). This has to be a major falling from the Truth – different to anything that has been seen before – just before Christ returns.

For such an apostasy to take place, The Truth must first have been restored. Only then can there subsequently be a falling away from that Truth. So the prophesied apostle – who restores “all things” at the end time – must come prior to this unprecedented, final apostasy.

In addition, when we begin to appreciate the implied scale of this apostasy, it also becomes more than likely that the apostasy will take place after the end-time apostle has died. A total rejection of God’s Way by an unprecedented segment within the Church founded through the apostle himself is implied. It is this unprecedented scale – and perhaps the speed – that is indicated, that makes it most likely that the one who initially restored that Truth is no longer there to protect the Church.

Philadelphia and Laodicea:

In addition to the above apostasy, we also find a second problem within what remains of the end-time Church of God. This problem is implied when we examine two of the Churches found within the first few chapters of Revelation.

It can be clearly shown that the Seven Churches of Revelation primarily represent successive eras of the True Church, for the apostle John was told, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand” (Rev 22:10; 1:3). The focus of Revelation is the end-time “Day of the Lord” (Rev 1:10). Only by taking these Churches as successive eras, does the above non-sealing of the overall book make sense. Only then can the first era (Ephesus) have information specifically for those of John’s day – making the phrase “for the time is at hand” correct.

When looking at these successive eras, two end-time Churches come to the fore: Philadelphia and Laodicea. Within these two groups we can also see evidence of there being an end-time apostle.

It is quite clear that Philadelphia exists just before and during the close of this age as Christ not only tells them “behold I come quickly” (Rev 3:11), but also talks of the imminency of “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev 3:10). This era must therefore be concurrent with God’s end-time apostle who is the one through whom God reveals His Truth during this time. In addition, they are told to hold that fast which thou hast” (Rev 3:11). It follows therefore, that “that which they have, must have come originally from this individual who was prophesied to “restore all things” (Matt 17:11).

Laodicean Blindness and The Waters of Siloam:

In the case of the Laodicean Church, they are described as being “poor, blind and naked” and must therefore “anoint thine eyes with eye-salve that thou mayest see” (Rev 3:17, 18). Coupling this passage with the lesson from the man born blind, in John 9, allows us to understand not only what it is that Laodicea must do, but also how Laodicea and the previous era (Philadelphia) are tied together.

The command to Philadelphia to “hold fast that which thou hast” (Rev 3:11), also implies part of the antidote Laodicea needs. Both the meaning of Laodicea (ie “the people judge or decide”), and the warning to Philadelphia “that no man take your crown” (Rev 3:11), give strong indications that both the problem, and the solution needed are common to both. The difference is that Philadelphia voluntarily applies the solution, and Laodicea does not.

It appears that those within Laodicea have turned from the source of pure Spiritual water that God formerly used to wash away their blindness at conversion. This eye-salve is encapsulated within the very meaning of the word “Siloam” found in John 9 – the enlightenment that came originally via the “apostle,” or the one God sent” to both Philadelphia and Laodicea with His revealed Truth. The indication is that Laodicea is substituting the teachings of men (Heb: adam) whose blind ideas of clay are merely from this earth (Heb: adama). Only by returning to “the pool of Siloam [which means sent – or apostle]” – to True Spiritual foundations “sent” by God (not men) – can those within Laodicea remove their Spiritual blindness.

This analysis is also reinforced when we read of the foolish virgins within Matthew 25. The missing key ingredient in their case is oil – another symbol for the Spirit of God and the Truth from that Spirit. As we have seen, God gives His Truth at a foundational level through apostles using Spiritual grace or gifts. At the end-time, this is a single individual – God’s prophesied apostle who prepares a people for Christ’s return.

Just Two Alternatives – With Implications:

Only two alternatives are possible: either God’s end-time apostle has come, or he has not. As we will see, choosing to believe he has not carries with it some profound implications for the people of God today. When we accurately understand the scenario that is prophesied, those implications are truly spine-chilling.

The logical conclusion is: if Herbert W. Armstrong was not that end-time apostle (as he claimed to be) then the True Church of God must look for another. That individual must appear – just as prophesied – or God is made a liar! But what are the implications of rejecting Mr Armstrong as fulfilling that role? What if we look for another End-Time Elijah instead? And if we decide on this course of action – and we are wrong – what are the repercussions?

Most who wish to reject Mr Armstrong as the Elijah, have voiced that “coming in the spirit and power of Elijah” implies great miracle-working ability, such as that given to the Elijah of old and the two witnesses. This stance is very dangerous indeed, as we are told that “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt 24:24). Notice that the words “it were” are not in the original. The above verse in the original implies that the very purpose of the satanic signs and wonders is specifically to deceive the elect!

Just before Christ mentions the above, He says for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not” (Matt 24:22-23). God is warning us! He warns us not to be taken in by those who insist on looking for another Elijah who will perform miracles. The indication is that Satan is about to give such people just what they are looking for!

Are Miracles Required?

To correctly understand what the end-time Elijah will do, God allows us to see within scripture how the initial “Elijah,” prior to Christ’s first coming, fulfilled his role. This includes whether spectacular miracles are required or not.

Speaking of John the Baptist, we are specifically told that “John did no miracle” (John 10:41), and yet John did fulfil the prophesied role of Elijah, as the angel said to his father Zechariah: “he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).

We can therefore see from John the Baptist – who was the type – that the apostle at the end-time will not be Elijah, but will come in “the spirit and power of Elijah.” He will come as a teacher, or converter – just as Elijah and John the Baptist were. His role will involve preparing a people for God, and teaching them about repentance – turning them from their own way, to the Way of God. Such an individual will automatically also possesses the hallmarks of a true apostle for, as we have seen in previous chapters, enlightening people and turning them to God’s Way for the first time does indeed lie at the very heart of an apostle’s role.

In Summary:

Prophecy clearly predicts that at the end-time an individual will be sent to prepare part of the spiritual Temple to which Christ will return. From the type – who was John the Baptist – we learn that the phrase “spirit and power of Elijah” does not imply the spectacular miracle-working powers of Elijah, but rather the way he illuminated people’s minds – turning them towards God’s Way in repentance.

This end-time apostle is also to be given profound revelation in the sense of a restoration of former understanding. In this role he will “restore all things” the end-time Church needs to “hold fast” that no man take their crown.

From the above, only two scenarios are possible: either the end-time apostle has come, or we in the True Church must look for another. Those who do not accept Mr Herbert Armstrong as that individual must therefore be expecting another – or the Word of God is false. Such a stance is incredibly dangerous, as prophecy indicates Satan will give such people whatever miracles they may be expecting – but as lying signs and wonders, to deceive the elect of God.