"Just What IS an APOSTLE?"

Chapter 9

The Evidence of Our Apostle

During the time of the early apostles, there were several who would not accept the authority of the apostle Paul. They refused to accept that Paul had been specifically sent to them as their apostle. Instead they listened to others – who led them away from the truth formerly revealed to them. However, when we examine the scale of grace given to the apostle Paul, and how God used him in the role to which He sent him, it is that collective evidence that indicates very clearly that he was the genuine article – even though he was not one of the Twelve.

Today, we find ourselves moving towards a far more awesome period in history. God’s Plan requires righteous judges who can use His Spirit to effectively weigh evidence in a Godly way. Having to be backed into a corner each time, before we recognise anything God has to say to us, is not an acceptable approach. If we are close to God, and weigh the collective evidence of our apostle – in the honest way that God demands – then two things become remarkably clear: Mr Armstrong was both our apostle and the prophesied end-time apostle as well. He was the one prophesied to restore the “all things” that God requires for this critical period.

Seal of Apostleship – That We Know The Truth:

It should be plain to all of us who know the Truth today that we learned the vast majority of that Truth through Mr Herbert Armstrong or those he taught. This, more than any other thing, should tell us that he is our apostle. Foundational Truth, as we have seen in preceding chapters, is by its very nature revealed knowledge. It comes only from God, and is revealed via the apostle whom He chooses to send to His people. If we know that Truth – and have therefore been made part of God’s True Church – then the one who taught us humanly is our apostle – sent (grk: apostello) by God.

The apostle Paul specifically uses this fact as his own prime proof of apostleship to the Corinthian Church when he says, “Am I not an apostle? … are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord” (I Cor 9:1-2).

It is our ability to understand spiritual things that gives the major proof of Mr Armstrong’s position as apostle. Paul had to point out to the Corinthian Church that the Truth they understood was merely received by them. They did not come up with this Truth themselves! But the irony is that God could just as forcefully say to each of us today, “what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive [it], why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received [it]?” (I Cor 4:7). The Truth within the Church today has not been self-generated. We learned that Truth from God. He chose to teach us through a single individual – the apostle sent to illuminate us at this end-time: Mr Herbert W Armstrong.

Mr Armstrong Knew His Role:

If we look at the way in which Mr Armstrong taught as an educator – doing an Elijah-like work – the very same Elijah-like qualities within John the Baptist can also be seen in him. He clearly recognised this parallel himself. Notice this quotation from Mystery of the Ages:

But now God's time has come! He now sends a voice to cry out with amplified world-covering power to reveal the way out of this senseless madness, into the world of peace and righteousness that soon shall grip the earth!

In the book of Isaiah is a "now" prophecy: "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord … lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say … Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him” (Isa. 40:3, 9-10).

That voice now cries out!

The prophet Malachi confirmed this: "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 3:1).

The Elijah to Come

Both of these prophecies have a dual application. First, they refer to John the Baptist, who prepared the way before Jesus' human ministry more than 1,900 years ago. But, as a prototype, or forerunner, these prophecies foretell one to prepare the way before Christ's Second Coming as the King of kings and Lord of lords to rule over all nations!

Malachi's prophecy, like Isaiah's, if you will read on past the first verse, refers to a human messenger preparing the way before Christ's now imminent Second Coming, this time in supreme power and glory as Ruler over all nations!

Understand the duality principle here. These prophecies refer to a type and its fulfillment.

John the Baptist was a voice crying out in the physical wilderness of the Jordan River area, preparing for the human physical Jesus' First Coming to a material temple at Jerusalem, to a physical Judah. But that was a prototype, or forerunner of a voice "lifted up" (greatly amplified by modern printing, radio and TV), crying out in the midst of today's spiritual wilderness of religious confusion, announcing the imminency of Christ's Second Coming as the spiritually glorified Christ, to his spiritual temple (the Church resurrected to spirit immortality) (Eph. 2:21-22).

Jesus came, over 1,900 years ago, to announce the future kingdom of God. He's coming this time to establish that kingdom. That end-time last warning message is now going out worldwide in amplified power.

It's going before kings, emperors, presidents, prime ministers of nations--and to their peoples, on all continents and all nations of the earth!

(Mystery of the Ages page 9)

The above quotation and many others show clearly that Mr Armstrong knew he fulfilled the role of end-time Elijah. In the early 1980s he also repeatedly referred to himself as “God’s apostle,” both when he spoke and in his writings. Anyone who has any doubts about this, should listen to the bible-study he gave on Zerubbabel’s Temple on 21st July 1978 in which he specifically answers both how and when he knew he was God’s apostle.

He knew who he was. Those of us who know the Truth – revealed to us by God through him – must hold this fact in crystal-clear focus. This is particularly true now, after his death, when so many formerly with us in the Church have lost sight of the utterly momentous times in which we live – and into which we are poised to enter.

Mr Armstrong Appeared At The Right Time:

As we have seen in the preceding chapter, when we view time the way God does, we are currently witnessing the closing hours of a 1,000-year preparation-day prior to the soon-coming Millennial Sabbath rest. Using this framework, 1900 becomes a pivotal date because of two key signs given to us in the book of Daniel. These two key signs of communication and science (Dan 12:4) exploded onto the world from that specific point in history.

Mr Armstrong was born on 31st July 1892 – right at the start of this pivotal period. As he says himself, “I have lived through the horse and buggy age, the automobile and industrial age, the air age, the nuclear age and now into the space age” (Mystery of the Ages, Author’s Statement).

When Mr Armstrong was 11 years old, the Wright brothers took what is regarded as the first steps in powered flight – staying in the air just 12 seconds. Towards the end of his life, Mr Armstrong was able to traverse the globe in his own aeroplane taking the gospel to kings, presidents and prime ministers. The way in which scientific progress seemed to develop in step with the growing Work of God – radio, television, telephones, telex, computers, satellite video streams – was quite astounding.

In addition, when the gospel first went to the world in 1953 – 100 time cycles after the apostle Paul took the gospel to Europe – another crucial prophetic event occurred. It was around this date that it first became possible for all human life to be extinguished from the earth due to the build-up of fusion-based nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Such world-altering events – witnessed alongside an expanding end-time Work of God – is yet further proof that Mr Armstrong was indeed who he said he was – God’s end-time apostle.

The Range of Truth Restored:

The grace of revelation given to the apostle Paul was quite specific. It was, “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Eph 3:6). When we look at the specific grace of revelation and the breadth of material given to Mr Herbert Armstrong, some would argue that it was even greater than that given to the apostle Paul. This should not be unexpected if he was indeed “sent” as God’s end-time apostle, to fulfil the prophecy to “restore all things” just before Christ’s return!

For over a thousand years – through the Middle-Ages – major teaching was lost to the people of God. Then God chose to reveal them once more, specifically to this man. Even the “holy grail” of all philosophy – the very meaning of life – was revealed. With this awe-inspiring Truth came the very Plan of God for humankind. God even revealed to Mr Armstrong each individual stage He will use to provide humankind with that “meaning to life” we all crave. To a human being, there can be no greater revelation!

Though always present within the Holy Days, the true significance of these days was not understood from the time of the early apostles until God’s revelation via Mr Armstrong. Do we within the Church of God fully appreciate just how great such revelation is? Can we not see that such divine understanding did not come from the mind of man? It had to be given by God. We need to appreciate the timing of this gift, and the importance God attaches to the one He “sends” with such a message. There cannot be a greater restoration coming after such material. The man who delivered this level of revelation has to be His true end-time apostle.

Just notice the range and depth of foundational Truth revealed:

Each of the above foundational Truths was restored to the Church at this end-time through Mr Herbert Armstrong. Although we today can clearly see this knowledge within scripture, before it was restored it was not perceived humanly. Only at the appropriate time – the end-time – did God choose to reveal it. He did so using the same Spirit that inspired the original scriptures – sending that revelation through a single individual.This is why Mr Armstrong could confidently say, “don’t believe me – believe the Bible” as both sets of Words were coming from the same Source.

Please look again at the list above! Appreciate the grace given to this man. This astounding degree of revelation and restoration of Truth – unprecedented in history – clearly identifies just who God’s end-time apostle really was.

Law of Moses Remembered:

Just before the prophecy within Malachi that talks of God sending Elijah the prophet before the return of Christ, there is a verse that says, “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, [with] the statutes and judgments” (Mal 4:4). The placement of this verse – just before the prophecy of the Elijah to come – indicates a clear connection between the two.

One criticism that many outside the True Church made against Mr Armstrong was his insistence that both the Sabbaths and the Holy Days of God should still be kept today. Early in 1927 Mr and Mrs Armstrong began to keep the Holy Days mentioned in the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus – recorded by Moses. For many years they faithfully kept these days, even though they did not understand why God had instructed mankind to keep them. All they knew was that their observance was required. Eventually, the meaning within the days became plain. These days contained the very Plan of God – an awesome plan that revealed the very meaning of human life itself.

Had Mr Armstrong not “remembered the law of Moses” as this passage in Malachi instructs, it would have been impossible for the Plan contained within these days to be revealed to him. This is due to the fact that God demands obedience of His true servants (John 7:17; Acts 5:32; Heb 5:9; I Pet 4:17). Once again, we can see a clear fulfilment of the scriptures that foretell this end-time apostle – scriptures fulfilled by Mr Herbert W Armstrong, as one sent in the spirit and power of Elijah.

Family Relations Restored:

Just after the above prophecy, God says, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal 4:6).

Two separate fulfilments are to be found within this passage:

When the angel talked with John the Baptist’s father, he rephrased the latter part of this verse: He talked of turning “the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). By phrasing the passage in this way, the angel also incorporated within the single passage both “remember the Law of Moses” (Mal 4:4) and “prepare the way before me” (Mal 3:1).

The first part of the prophecy, “and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children,” deals specifically with family relationships. This subject was prophesied to become a particular problem at the end-time by such passages as: “This know also, that in the last days … men shall be lovers of their own selves … disobedient to parents … without natural affection” (II Tim 3:1-3).

Within his many books, booklets, and articles on marriage and the family, Mr Armstrong would invariably approach the topic from a higher, God-plane perspective. No one else in the world could do so – because no one else had received such astounding revelation as to why marriage and the family were so important to God! It was this revelation – given specifically to him – that made his analysis and advice unique.

I remember being taught by Mr Armstrong numerous times on the Bricket Wood campus here in the UK. Whenever he was here, he would make a point of taking several classes, forums and assemblies. The two classes he concentrated on above all others were: Principles of Living (which used The Missing Dimension In Sex as its text book), and Family Relations (in which Godly relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, were taught to the senior class). He also implemented the Summer Educational Programme (SEP); Youth Educational Services (YES); Youth Opportunities United (YOU); Youth Magazine and Imperial Schools.

The following two quotes from his letters are typical:

“God intended [the reproductive system] to have a spiritual as well as physical function -- to endear a husband and wife in true spiritual LOVE (something far greater than lust) -- and to BIND husband and wife as ONE -- spiritually as well as physically -- to protect and preserve the marriage in sacredness, happiness and joy.” (Plain Truth Subscriber letter of 3rd November 1980)

“Not only are these summer camps of such supreme importance but also our program of working with you parents so you may come closer to your children. As God's apostle I call on you, brethren, to have a CLOSER RELATIONSHIP with your children. The last two verses of the Old Testament are a prophecy showing how important that is for YOU, TODAY!” (Co-worker letter of 15th January 1984)

The prophecy within Malachi is clearly fulfilled by this unique God-plane perspective – revealed to Mr Armstrong alone – and the consequential emphasis he placed on family relations because of it. Here also we find proof of his position as end-time apostle – one coming in the spirit and power of Elijah – exactly as prophesied.

A Voice Did Cry Out:

Of this end-time apostle God says "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord … lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say … Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him” (Isa 40:3, 9-10, quoted: Matt 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23 ).

When prophets of old were given a commission to go to certain countries, they did not go to the general populace. They would go to the leaders of each country, and pass whatever message God had for the country to those leaders. In a similar way, Mr Armstrong conducted a program in the 1970s of taking a message to the leaders of the nations. Though not framed in religious language, the message nevertheless carried the soon-coming World Government of God at its heart – and it was taken to the leaders of many, many nations around this earth. It has been estimated that Mr Armstrong met approximately one third of the leaders of the world in his day – a greater percentage than probably any other man-of-God in the entire 6,000-year history of mankind.

In addition to the above programme to individual leaders, the Work headed by Mr Armstrong also took both his voice and printed words to untold millions of ordinary people across the face of the globe – most still available today via the Internet and CDRom. This was particularly true within the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, New Zealand and other areas where the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh live. Remember, it is these two specific tribes that Jacob prophesied would carry the name “Israel” down through the millennia to the end-time (Gen 48:16) and to whom so many of the end-time prophecies are directed.

Within this effort over twenty million copies of his book, The United States and Britain in Prophecy, were distributed. In 1985 alone, seventy-four million Plain Truth magazines were either mailed to subscribers or distributed through newsstands – representing around eight million magazines every month. As “cult watcher” Ruth Tucker said, Herbert W. Armstrong was a well-known figure in religious circles for most of half a century. It was hard to find anyone who had not seen an issue of The Plain Truth magazine or heard The World Tomorrow radio and television broadcasts” (Christianity Today, July 15, 1996).

It was indeed an incredible end-time Work of God – unprecedented in all history. Mr Armstrong himself constantly emphasised that this was not his work – the work of a mere man – but the Work of the Living God. The quality, scale and scope fully support this assessment. We were actually observing the fulfilment of prophecy – God’s prophecy! Using the unique power of radio and television, Mr Herbert Armstrong probably spoke personally to more people than all of God’s servants down through the ages put together. That such a voice has cried out in the way it did, shows that it was indeed the Work of God’s end-time apostle – a Work prophesied to occur just prior to Christ’s now-imminent return.

An Unprecedented Apostasy:

We have seen in the previous chapter, that following the prophesied restoration of the Truth, an unprecedented apostasy is also foretold within II Thes 2:3 as one of two key signs of the end-time. The scale of this apostasy also seems to imply that the end-time apostle may be dead when it occurs. This precise scenario took place – exactly as predicted.

Within a very short time after Mr Armstrong’s death in 1986, his successor began to implement a progressive series of changes – destined to totally transform the Church with which he was entrusted. There was eventually a complete departure from the foundation of Truth delivered. This departure has now made the corporation that was once God’s Church, just one more church of this world – a world that scripture tells us is led by Satan (II Cor 4:4) who “deceiveth the whole world” (Rev 12:9).

The changes were so startling that even those outside were astounded at their scale:

D. James Kennedy, senior minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida, said, "This is the most astonishing change that I have ever seen or heard of in any religious group" (Christianity Today, July 15, 1996).

William M. Alnor wrote of Unprecedented Changes and said, Dramatic changes have turned the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) upside-down since the January 1986 death of founder Herbert W. Armstrong. The changes are so great and so extraordinary that some long-time cult watchers believe the WCG may be moving toward Christian orthodoxy” (News Watch – a column of the Christian Research Journal – Spring 1991, page 5).

Ruth Tucker, visiting professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, wrote the following in an article entitled “From the Fringe to the Fold”: The "changes"--as they are referred to by insiders--are truly historic. Never before in the history of Christianity has there been such a complete move to orthodox Christianity by an unorthodox fringe church” (Christianity Today, July 15, 1996).

The scale was not merely the departure of a few people from the Truth delivered to them. It involved the human leadership and the entire organisation of what was once God’s Church. This apostasy corrupted the majority who once formed that holy establishment.This huge segment forsook the Truth, and instead returned to the various religious ideas of this world from which they – or their parents – had originally been cleansed. This clearly fulfils the prophecy within II Thes 2:3: for they did not merely become slightly off Track on a doctrine or two – they apostatised right back into the world and once more re-embraced its ways.

As the apostle Peter said, such people “turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (II Pet 2:21). That commandment came originally via apostles (II Pet 3:2). Peter graphically portrays the process as a “dog turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Pet 2:22). False teachers – under Satan’s influence – did indeed infiltrate the True Church and bring in “damnable heresies” (II Pet 2:1-2).

The way, the scale and the speed at which this took place, are all further proof of the true identity of the end-time apostle that preceded it. Only by first having the Truth restored through Mr Herbert W Armstrong was it possible for the prophesied unprecedented apostasy from that Truth to occur.

The Attitude of Laodicea Is Here Today:

This booklet has not been written for people who have turned away from God’s Truth into total apostasy. As the apostle John said of such people in his day: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (I John 2:19). No, this booklet has been written for God’s people – those whose place is beneath God’s Government – the people who have the Spirit of God available to them and are therefore able to be subject to God and His Law (Rom 8:7, 9, 14).

The problem is that the understanding of what God’s Government entails today, differs according to the organisation we attend. Each Church of God group has their own “brand” of belief – a smorgasbord of disparate ideas and opinions. This has resulted in disunity and chaos – yet “God is not [the author] of confusion, but of peace” (I Cor 14:33).

So how has this situation arisen? The truth of the matter is that it was prophesied: and the attitude behind the problem lies within the very meaning of the word “Laodicea.”

A church era is the product of the society in which it lives. In today’s society there is a definite and recognised spirit that goes well beyond mere democracy. It is the spirit of “post-modernism”: where absolutely nothing is entirely right – except the utter insistence that “my view is always as good as yours.” This spirit directly parallels the very meaning of the word Laodicea. The word means “the people judge or decide,” and we can see this specific spirit both within the Church and within the society around it – reinforcing exactly where we are in prophecy.

As we saw in the previous chapter, it is by coupling the passage “hold that fast which thou hast” (Rev 3:11), with the prophesied lukewarm attitude that thinks it is “rich and increased” and has “need of nothing” – that we begin to see a truly clear picture: The lukewarm attitude of Laodicea is at least in part a lukewarm approach towards the Truth that has been revealed. This Truth has to be the same revealed Truth that Philadelphia is urged to hold onto (Rev 3:11), as God is consistent and these two groups are concurrent at the end-time.

Once again, this is what we find: The leaders and people within any particular Church organisation are not against all that was revealed by God via Mr Armstrong; they merely have their own ideas about certain aspects that they decide should be different. Yet each group – and even each person – disagrees with the next as to which aspects they believe should be changed. They are not cold to the revelation, but neither are they hot. And they all believe they are right. They look upon what they believe as indeed being spiritually “rich and increased with goods”! They do not see where they are “off Track.” Christ therefore finds Himself at the door knocking (Rev 3:20).

Christ says, “if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (cf Rev 3:20). He has already given us – by revelation – the food we need at this end-time. As we will see in the next chapter, it is the same spiritual food that the entire family of God must eat for eternity!

This prevalent attitude of Laodicea today is but more clear evidence that Mr Herbert Armstrong was indeed who he said he was – God’s end-time apostle. He was the one who delivered the Truth God revealed to us at this time – including those destined to become the era known as Laodicea.

Getting “Back on Track”!

God – who does not change (Mal 3:6) – says “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). If this was true of warning the people within Israel of old, how much more within the True Church of God at the end-time.God said of His people Israel, that He “sent … all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending [them]; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear” (Jer 25:4).How much more will Christ both clearly warn and instruct His future bride prior to the most cataclysmic period that there has ever been or ever will be again (Matt 24:21)? God – being God – will ensure that none can turn around and say they have not been warned; but where does that warning come from? It also has to be from His end-time apostle.

Beginning August 1977, we lived through a most remarkable series of occurrences. Mr Armstrong talks in his autobiography of the catalyst that began these events:

Had not skilled nurses been present to administer instant mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and heart massage, I tell you that as far as I was personally concerned I wouldn't be here today.

Shortly after they'd told me what had happened, I felt that if my work in God's hands were finished and God didn't have any further use for me in His Work, that I would rather have remained dead. Because if they hadn't intervened I would have been buried in two or three days.

But I realize that God had shown me something by two miracles. No. 1, He restored my life when I was already past eighty-five years of age. And this was very shortly, as a matter of fact, about twenty days after my eighty-fifth birthday. And, second, neither I nor my nurses had ever heard of anyone of like age being restored by that process after almost complete loss of mind, my brain virtually a vegetable. And I was restored with my mind just as intact as it ever was..

(Autobiography, Volume 2, page 592)

This “near death” of Mr Armstrong resulted in a sequence of events within the Work that in hindsight was truly remarkable. These events show clearly that it was Christ – not Mr Armstrong – who was the One actually in control. The result of this “near death,” was to embolden those who wanted their own way within the Work of God. This is also what we also see today. They thought Mr Armstrong was close to death and therefore assumed that they would be in control. However, their assessment was totally wrong. Christ remained in charge through the whole process! He actually used the situation to reveal to Mr Armstrong just how far “off Track” the Work had become, and more importantly, who was responsible. Christ effectively gave him a view of the Laodicean attitude that would eventually arise after his death!

Having seen what the Church would become, Mr Armstrong was determined – as he put it – to put God’s Work “back on Track” once more. He first removed the “liberal” elements, including his own son, and later dealt with specific “right-wing” individuals who were also “off Track” as well. What we witnessed was a process that took several years, and we were shown the areas that must be addressed, and the stages in which it should be done. We were given a picture of how an organisation of God is to be restored once it has gone astray. We were effectively given a demonstration of exactly what we were going to have to do following an apostasy from the Truth: how to bring an organisation that is turning to a Laodicean attitude back to God.

This event is also further evidence of just who Mr Armstrong was – that he was indeed the end-time apostle who was prophesied. Not only was he sent by God to His people, but also God even brought him “back from death” to show His people how to “hold fast” within this unique and potentially devastating period of history – that we are now living through without him.

In Summary:

  1. The seal of any apostleship – is that we know the Truth
  2. Mr Armstrong knew and told us of his prophesied roles
  3. Mr Armstrong appeared at the right time
  4. The scale and range of Truth show that God actually revealed it
  5. The Law of Moses was remembered – as prophesied
  6. Family relations were restored – as prophesied
  7. A voice did cry out – for the first time in 1900 years
  8. Apostasy indicates end-time Truth was previously restored
  9. A Laodicean attitude is here today – just before the Tribulation
  10. We were shown how to get "Back on Track" in the 1980s