The World Tomorrow

The True Church (6)

by Herbert W Armstrong


And now continuing the amazing, eye opening, surprising, actual history of what happened to the church that Jesus Christ did found and build. Where is that church today when we live in a world teaching exactly opposite doctrines, following exactly contrary and opposite customs? Yes, it's shocking to discover that the Christianity that we have grown up accepting, is not the same gospel that Jesus preached at all, not the same Christianity believed and practiced by the church that Jesus Christ did build in the days when it was led infallibly by the apostles as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

It's a little shocking to learn that Christ observed the Passover instead of Easter, that the original, genuine Church of God, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the guidance and leadership of the Spirit of God, the church that Jesus built, observed the Passover - not Easter - and the Days of Unleavened Bread following it. But no Easter, or holy week, or Lenten season preceding it.

It's certainly surprising to learn that the apostle Paul actually taught the Gentile converts to stop observing Lent and Easter and instead to keep the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And it's rather shocking my friends, to learn in scripture, that Jesus Christ forbids us to observe Easter, believe it or not! Yes that's shocking, but that isn't all, it's even more astounding to discover on researching into actual history, that the true Church which Christ founded and which He headed, continued to keep the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread.

They continued to proclaim and to believe the same gospel that Jesus had proclaimed, utterly different from the gospels that we've grown up believing in this world today. They continued to practice the same customs that Christ and the apostles had observed and taught for hundreds and hundreds of years into the Middle Ages, and even down, my friends, into our times, into this very century in which we live now.

The Two Churches of Revelation (PLAY FROM 02:38)

Now we've been going through the history of that true Church and I've shown you my friends, that in the book of Revelation are two different churches prophesied. One is what we have seen in all this confusion of organized Christianity as we see it today, all divided among itself, great and mighty and powerful, and there it's called by a fallen name.

And the thing that made this woman - under the symbol of a woman, pictured as a fallen woman - was the fact that she has gotten into this world and the politics of this world and the ways of this world. That was her fornication. And, my friends, you know it's being done today. Oh it's right there in your Bible. God calls the whole thing Babylon, Babylon the Great.

And then Jesus said that His Church was going to be the little flock. He said it would be persecuted. Everywhere prophecy foretold that it would be scattered, persecuted, not always together and organized. As a matter of fact it was only able to continue the preaching of the gospel to the world in an organized fashion for just two nineteen year time cycles after the time of Christ, after the founding of the Church. And so far as its organized effort is concerned, it disbanded in 69 AD and the members were scattered.

Now we've been going through the history of that true Church from that time on. That true Church of God is pictured in the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation, as a persecuted church that was forced during the Middle Ages to flee for 1260 years from organized, paganized civil governments and the police system of the governments, otherwise they would have been tortured. In fact many who did not flee, paid with their lives.

They were tortured unto death and they were martyrs. And it says there: "...they loved not their lives unto death." (Revelation 12:11)

But those that were not martyred, those that were not killed, were protected, but they had to flee organized civilization. That's in your Bible my friends. Oh, these things are shocking but they're right in your own Bible, and either these things are true or else the Bible is not true.

The Little, Persecuted Flock (PLAY FROM 05:02)

And now we come to the second and the third chapter of Revelation where you find the details of the history, foretold in advance in the form of prophecy, of the true Church of God and what was going to happen to it. Now once again let me explain that even the true Church of God is made up of human beings who have been completely converted, however, and have given their whole hearts and lives over to God and are being led by the Spirit of God. But they are not perfect. There is only one who ever lived who was really perfect and that's Jesus Christ.

And so, among those that are in the true Church, even though they yet remain faithful, God does look on the heart. And even though they still have a right spirit and they intend to do what God wants them to do, they are not all doing it perfectly. Some more so than others, and some a whole lot less so, and some, finally just fall away altogether. Again, I am reminded my friends, of what we are warned in the Bible; "...let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." (I Corinthians 10:12)

Now some of them did fall, some of them did fall away. And the devil has always been angry, wroth with that church that keep the commandments of God and has the faith and the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17). And I want to tell you my friends, that that little church, that despised, scattered, persecuted little Church of God has had a great deal more to contend with than those that just join the broad way that is leading to destruction, the popular road of organized religion.

Because the devil is angry with them and the devil has caused them a great deal of trouble, where he's perfectly content to let alone those that are deceived. They're very sincere of course, they think they're right, but are deceived. Now you can be the finest meaning person in the world and be very honest and sincere, and yet be deceived. And if you are, the devil is going to let you alone, he won't worry much about you, he's got you where he wants you. And my friends, that's where he does have the overwhelming majority of the people in this world.

The Gates of Hell Have Not Prevailed Against It (PLAY FROM 07:12)

Now where did that little church that was not noticed by the world, that the historians didn't regard as a true Church of God at all, but rather as apostates and heretics, where has that church been? Well it has not ceased to exist, Jesus Christ said, "...I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). He did build it. He said, "...the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Of course, literally, He is speaking of the grave, and He meant it wouldn't prevail because the graves are going to open in a resurrection. The hope of the resurrection is the real hope of the Christian. It was the hope for which the apostle Paul went on trial for his life.

Well now we've been going through the history and finding that true Church. They've been trying to fit this church at Ephesus and Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis and so on, as you find them in the second and third chapters of Revelation, to the great popular professing Christian churches that are in this world, of this world, politically organized, that have been participating in the world's politics, the world's business, the world's commerce, the world's pleasures and the world's ways.

They are the ones, my friends, of the prophecy that a great falling away would take place. They would "...have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof" (II Timothy 3:5 paraphrased). The ones that have gotten clear away from "...the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3 paraphrased). We are commanded to contend earnestly for that faith once delivered.

Well now we have gone through Ephesus. The church there at Ephesus, and their characteristics were typical of the characteristics of the true Church of God as a whole, when it started out during apostolic times for about the first thirty-eight or so years of its history. And that was the church of the apostles. Of course literally, it was referring to a literal church that did exist at Ephesus in the nineties, at the time the apostle John was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the book of Revelation. And it was typical of the apostolic church that had already passed into history.

Then the church at Smyrna followed. Now that was just north, and as I have explained, these churches in Asia Minor, these literal local churches that did exist in the nineties AD, were on a mail route. Smyrna was just north of Ephesus, Pergamos on up north of that, and then Thyatira further north. Then we begin to swing around down again, and Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea, when you come back around the lower end of the circle again.

The Seven Eras Of God's Church (PLAY FROM 09:49)

It was a mail route in those days, and it just happened that the churches, those seven churches, typified the seven eras, or stages of time, of development of the true Church of God as it would be. Now I've mentioned that the church wasn't perfect, and God starts out here with the church at Ephesus.

"I know thy works, ...thy labor and ...patience... [it was His church] Nevertheless [verse four] I have somewhat against thee..." (Revelation 2:2,4).

Why He said that even to His own disciples. Jesus rebuked Peter and Paul, even after Peter had received the Holy Spirit, Paul the apostle withstood Peter to his face because he was to be blamed. He wasn't perfect, he wasn't perfect at all.

Now we come to Smyrna, and this is the stage of the church for the next 400 years. Well, "...These things saith the first and the last, [that] was dead and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty..." (Revelation 2:8-9 paraphrased). He knew all of the good things about them, but also there were some things that were not so good. And then we come to Pergamos and here were good things about them. He said again,

"I know thy works, ...where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is [and they had a lot to contend with there]: But [He said, verse fourteen] I have a few things against thee..." (Revelation 2:13-14)

And then He told them what was wrong and told them to repent of those things.

Now we find a great deal about them in a book called, "The Key of Truth" that contains a great deal of their teachings that has been translated into the English language by Fred C Conybeare. This partially preserved record of God's people proves that they preached the gospel of the Kingdom, the government of God, and they baptized by immersion, not by sprinkling or anything of the kind.

They realized that there are four passages in the New Testament, if we're going to live by every word of God, that we should after people have thoroughly repented, have completely surrendered unconditionally to God and to the will of God, the government of God, surrendered their wills, have come out of the world, that they did as the apostles had done, they prayed over them and laid hands on them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

They not only continued to keep the Passover on the fourteenth of God's first month, Nissan, which comes along in the Spring and not in January at all. But they also observed the Sabbath, the weekly Sabbath believe it or not, and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Now that's on pages 162 and 152 in the "Key of Truth" that was translated into English by Fred C Conybeare.

Well the devil was quite angry with those people as I read to you, and so once again Satan in his wiles to overthrow the church, introduced false teachers among God's people. As a result of these sins Jesus warned His church in verse sixteen here, Revelation two:

"Repent, or else I will fight against thee with the sword of my mouth" (Revelation 2:16 paraphrased).

And the word of God is like a sharp two edged sword and is pictured as coming out of the mouth of Christ who is the Word of God. Well most of them took that warning rather lightly until it was too late, trusting in their own worldly political alliances with neighboring Arabs instead of relying on Jesus' protection. They were betrayed, they were slaughtered, a hundred thousand of them. According to history that's what happened.

The faithful few who escaped were driven to Southeastern Europe and here we find, from page 104 on this book, that there they throve for centuries and spread their tenets into Bohemia, Poland, Germany, Italy, France and even into England, those that had remained faithful and were not slaughtered.

Now we come to the church in Thyatira, and this is mighty interesting.

"[And] These things [write, thus] saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet [unto] fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee ... Because [she'd] suffered this woman Jezebel, which called herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce His servants and to commit fornication.(Revelation 2:18-20 paraphrased)

Now here was a church though, the unusual thing that marks this church, is human nature to keep degenerating, but here's a church whose last works were better than the first. Now let's get into that, this church at Thyatira. John was inspired to commend this church because the last works of the church were more than those at first.

But in the local church there was a false teacher who taught some to practice idolatry. Now Jesus warned them that He would cast them into a great tribulation and kill her children with death unless they repented. Let me just read that. I had read previously down to verse 20, let's read on the rest of this.

"[Nevertheless] I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess [and actually that woman was the big false church spoken of in Revelation 17 under symbol, because Revelation is written in symbols. But the Bible explains its own symbols], to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication [you will read of that in chapter seventeen verse two, where you get the meaning of that clarified. I gave her space to repent of her fornication], and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation [that is, I will cast her into a sick bed, actually is the meaning of it, and the civil rulers that commit adultery with her, because the adultery was committed with the civil rulers. Into great tribulation], except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death, and all [of] the churches [shall] know that I am he which searcheth the reins and [the] hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works." (Revelation 2:20-23)

Martyrdom Because Of The Sabbath (PLAY FROM 16:45)

Now let's continue with it. Let's notice how this description fits exactly the next great expansion of God's people on earth. They were God's true people but they were not perfect and some turned false out of them continually. Yes there was a continual falling away even from the true people. As a result of the evangelism, or evangelization of the Alpine regions by the Paulicians, as they had been called, as God's people were called at that time by the world, they didn't call themselves that, there arose numerous ministers and faithful congregations.

One of these men was Peter de Bruys who preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God in the South of France. Now you read that in Jones' Church History chapter four, section three. Two other preachers of this time were Arnold and Henry. They were charged by the popular, politically organized churches with remaining faithful to the whole law of God and of observing the Sabbath.

Notice, they were CHARGED with that because the WORLDLY churches that had adopted the pagan customs, and I have gone into all of the history of how that happened and how that falling away did come, and how they had turned in the world away from the truth and turned unto fables. There was a decree passed in 363 AD and it was enforced by the government, that Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath.

Because, even in 363 AD my friends, we, after three hundred years after Christ, there were so many people, so many Christians, STILL keeping the Sabbath that Jesus kept, the one He said He was LORD of, the true Lord's Day. There were so many of them still keeping it, that in order to stamp it out, the government had to pass a law saying, as translated into English, that "Christians must not Judaize (they call that Judaizing because of their prejudice and their jealousy against the Jews) by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather resting on Sunday as Christians. But if any be found Judaizing, let them be declared Anathema." Which, my friends was a death sentence, and MILLIONS were martyred for the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ.

Now that's a matter of history my friends. It isn't a matter of opinion, those things are a matter of record, you can find them in your libraries, you can find them in the books of history. And we have sent our men to London and to even to Berlin, and to Paris and to Rome and the capitals of the world to call off some of these things for us and to get these histories. And that's how this history that I'm giving you has been compiled.

I'm not reading this from any other sources my friends, our own researchers have compiled very carefully, and carefully documented this history that I'm giving you. And I'm quite sure that you have never heard it before. Well it's eye-opening, it's shocking, and it's about time that someone took the trouble and the pains and went to the great trouble to collect this information that we can have our eyes opened, that we can know the truth.

Oh yes I know, the world is just FULL of FALSE teachers and there are going to be plenty that will say that this is not true. And so, perhaps the many that just don't like the know Jesus said that "...this is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than [the] light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

Well let's hurry along with this now. I want you to notice now how this description exactly fits here. Because the last works of the church were more than the first, they were commended. But in the local church there was a false teacher who taught some to practice idolatry. Now Jesus had warned them that He would cast them into great tribulation, kill her children with death unless they repented. I just read that to you in this second chapter of Revelation.

Now I want you to notice how this description fits exactly the next great expansion of God's people. As a result of the evangelization of the Alpine regions by the Paulicians, as God's people were then called, there arose numerous ministers and faithful congregations. And one of these men was Peter de Bruys who preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God in the south of France. The gospel of the Kingdom of God, the same gospel that Jesus had preached.

Now two other preachers of that time were Arnold and Henry, and they were charged by the popular churches with remaining faithful to the whole law of God and of observing the Sabbath. In spite of the fact that the government then ruling the western world had proclaimed a death sentence on anyone that would do it. That's how, my friends, Sabbath observing came to be almost universally stamped out. It was done with the power of government and the secret police.

The Missing Link Is Christ (PLAY FROM 22:13)

Now the Lutheran historian Mosheim says of another branch of the Church of God in the twelfth century, that they held, "A notion that the observance of the law of Moses, in everything except the offering of sacrifices, was obligatory upon Christians. They abstained from those meats, the use of which was prohibited under the Mosaic economy and they celebrated the Jewish Sabbath. The second tenet which distinguished this sect was advanced in opposition to the doctrine of three persons in the divine nature," from that history.

Yes they knew that God was not a Trinity. God is not LIMITED to just three persons, my friends, believe it or not. Of course we've grown up believing in a world that has believed, even to change the very nature of God, that God is LIMITED. God is a KINGDOM, and God is the CREATING kingdom. And God has created, first the inanimate kingdom, the mineral kingdom, then the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, and I think you should say a human kingdom. Because while we are classified technically in the animal kingdom, we're much nearer like God than we are like dumb animals, believe it or not.

And the missing link is not a missing link between us and the brute beasts, but the missing link between us and God. And that missing link is Christ, and it's about time this world found the missing link, because Christ links us to God, and we can become a member of the God Family, the God kingdom, the Kingdom of God. God is that kingdom and there's an angel kingdom and the God kingdom is the ruler.

Why God said, "Let US make man in our image" (Genesis 1:26) not "Let me." And the God who said it was "Elohim," and Elohim is plural, meaning a family of persons, more than one person. The very name of God in your Bible in the Hebrew tells that, my friends. Oh how little we know and how this world has been deceived and how the shades of darkness have been pulled down over the eyes of the people, until, I tell you my friends, the things that we have thought were the truth of God, the things we believe are CHRISTIAN, it's about time we learned how many of these things are so far from the teaching of Christ and of the apostles. And the things we do are not the things they did.

I'm showing you now the history of the real true church that Jesus said the gates of hell should never prevail against (Matthew 16:18). Well a crusade was instituted against many of these people in southern France, thousands perished. But when it seemed that the first work would soon be ended, there arose an even greater leader among God's people. It was the close of the twelfth century. In Lyons, France lived an astonishingly successful and a wealthy merchant Peter Waldo.

The Calling of Peter Waldo (PLAY FROM 25:07)

You probably heard of Waldo in history. One day, while in the company of some of the leading citizens, one of his friends fell lifeless at his side. Terrified by the event, he said to himself, "If death had stricken me, what would have become of my soul?" Well Waldo asked one of the theologians, "What is the perfect way?"

"Ah" answered the theologian – and I'm quoting this from Comba's History of the Waldenses, page twenty-one. "Ah" answered the theologian, "Here is Christ's precept, 'If thou will be perfect, go sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, take up thy cross and follow me.'" (combination of Mark 10:21 and Matthew 19:21)

Now Waldo disposed of his property by distributing to the poor, but from his wealth he also had a translation of the scriptures made. And in this translation he noticed the command to the apostles to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and his mind began to understand the scriptures and what it was. Now God began to use Peter Waldo, and Comba, the historian says that, "He brought to the study of the scriptures that practical common sense which had guided him in his business transactions. The word of Christ was clear enough for Waldo, it was simply a question of furnishing a literal translation." That's page 243 of Comba's History.

The humble remnant of the Church of God listened to him and soon many new disciples were coming to repentance. Yes, to repentance. Here was a church teaching repentance. His disciples became almost as many co-workers with him, co-workers. And he had been brought out of the field of business. Now God's church once again was spreading the gospel and a school for ministers was established to provide the trained help to carry on the gospel.

Now here's a marvelous record from these people, it's dated 1404, if I have time to read a little of it.

"We do not find anywhere in the writings of the Old Testament that the light of truth and of holiness was at any time completely extinguished. There have always been men who walked faithfully in the paths of righteousness. Their number has, at times, been reduced to few, but never has been altogether lost. We believe that the same has been the case from the time of Jesus Christ until now, and that it will be until the end. For if the Church of God was founded, it was in order that she might remain, endure until the end. We do not believe that the Church of God absolutely departed from the way of truth, but one portion yielded, and as is commonly seen, the majority was led away into evil." And that's from Comba's History, page ten and eleven.

Oh I haven't the time, I thought I could complete it today.