Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
"Test Your Leaders" -- Gerald Flurry.
What Went WRONG with the "Philadelphia Church of God"?
In January 1990 Gerald Flurry and John Amos broke away from the Worldwide Church of God and began a new church called "The Philadelphia Church of God." They have pointed out many of the drastic changes Worldwide is going through, and claims to want to return to the faith of Herbert Armstrong, whom they look upon as "Elijah." They banish all cosmetics, rule the flock with rigor, and emphasize "Church government" as Worldwide also does. They claim the 144,000 of Revelation are the "Laodicean" Church and will all be martyred. They further claim Joseph Tkach is the "Joshua" of Zechariah 3. They began with a flourish -- but where did they go wrong?
I received the following letter from an ex-member of the Worldwide Church of God in Ohio who later joined the Philadelphia Church of God, headed by Gerald Flurry in Edmond, Oklahoma. His letter was extremely interesting and revealing. I thought I should share it with the readers of this article with the hope of protecting and guiding people who might be tempted to get involved with another Church patterned after many of the basic errors of the Worldwide Church of God. The writers states:
"Thank you for your excellent literature! My enthusiasm has never been higher. I've been starving for such inspiring exhortations. Although my living was not at stake, such as in your case, the treatment I've received from church 'leaders' is about the same.
"After being too vocal in my questioning of the WCG's direction, I was 'disfellowshipped' in February of 1990. It was actually a relief since it was becoming more and more difficult to even motivate myself to attend. The last three years were rough."
The correspondent continues his personal, in-depth report based on his own findings:
"I then came to Fellowship with the 'Philadelphia Church of God' headed by Gerald Flurry in Edmond, OK. He sounded pretty good at first but his ideas won't stand up to his instructions to 'TEST YOUR LEADERS.' He claims remnant Philadelphia Christians should back the PCG. 'Unfortunately' again, I have just been 'suspended' by John Amos for asking about PASSOVER and the '144,000' doctrine. Mr. Amos also claimed I was disrespectful to his office. He claimed that myself and others here in Canton, Ohio, have been 'hounding' them about these doctrines. (We haven't even gotten around to PENTECOST yet!)."
The letter writer continues:
"Mr. Amos was supposed to visit me to counsel me about my 'hang up' about Passover but changed his mind and called me to cancel our 'golf date-counselling session' and to tell me I have been suspended For not being in 'agreement' and for being 'disrespectful' to a minister. All conveniently by telephone -- just for asking questions. The old AT & T 'Reach out and disfellowship someone' plan.
"I probably do sound disrespectful in this letter. But I'd prefer to characterize it as you would and say I and the others there were being bold to get to the TRUTH. So far there are three -- possibly Four -- here in Canton who recognize the truth that has been revealed to you by God. Yes, and now we're being called all sorts of things in return."
What happened? Why was this sincere seeker for the truth of YEHOVAH God abruptly thrown "out" of the new "Philadelphia Church of God," which claims to be the true "remnant" of the "Philadelphia Church" era founded by Herbert W. Armstrong in 1934? What went wrong? The letter writer continues his sad and pathetic story:
"Once the PCG organized itself and began teaching 'strong government' everything died. The PCG seems like a new Sardis -- accepting the truths that Mr. Armstrong taught (along with some errors), but freezing everything at that point and refusing new Truth.
"We were just 'made examples of' to the Columbus, Ohio congregation -- the largest actual congregation in this part of the country -- (around 40-50 people). All of this without talking first with any of us to our faces. Mr. Amos has forsaken the strays to 'save' the ninety-nine. It's BACKWARDS!
"Anyway, needless to say, your literature has shown to me that to continue to prove all things and to follow Christ -- not men with their own personal agendas -- thru getting back to serious Bible study and prayer IS THE ONLY HOPE FOR US ALL. It appears that Laodicean ministers can't magically change into faithful shepherds, just by calling the organization 'Philadelphian.' A worthless shepherd is a worthless shepherd. I've only heard by the 'grapevine' that my status is now officially 'disfellowshipped.' No one has told me to my face. It's shameful!
"I can't tell you how encouraged I am by your reprints. I've just written this letter after having read your article 'Escape From Laodicea.' I hope to introduce others to your study aids and other publications. It won't be easy though. Already I'm considered 'lost' by my own sister who still attends the PCG. She 'lovingly' refers to your literature as 'POISON.' Hopefully she'll come around -- before it's too late.
"By the way, I'm no stranger to your articles. I'd received the 'Plain Truth' and 'Tomorrow's World' magazines in the early seventies. I'd attended the WCG since 1973. I have many issues from the sixties also. Please keep the 'presses' rolling and thanks to you and all who are helping you to teach the truth so all who will be willing to prove and accept it can do so. Thanks so much. Our prayers are with you."
The writer then adds the following postscript, a candid appraisal of the Flurry organization:
"P.S.S. Also if I can be of any help in regards to the 'PCG' please do not hesitate to ask. Mr. Flurry's errors are very dangerous, I feel. Thanks."
End-Time Deceptions Abound
Just because a Church group comes out of the Worldwide Church of God, and possess quite a bit of truth, does not necessarily mean that they are "God's end-time Church," and the ONLY true Church of YEHOVAH God on earth, today, as the Flurry organization claims for itself!
What about you reading this article? Do you know how to really IDENTIFY YEHOVAH's True Church -- His True Work on this earth, today?
Yeshua the Messiah said, "You will know them by their fruits" (Matt. 7:20). A Church's "fruits" involves both its TEACHINGS and DOCTRINES as well as its POLICIES and PRACTICES! Isaiah the prophet wrote, "To the law and to the testimony [the BIBLE]: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is NO LIGHT IN THEM" (Isa. 8:20).
Now, I have nothing "personal" against Gerald Flurry and his new organization. Howver, I have heard some things about them which cause me to grieve. They appear to have retreated into a form of "isolationism" and are not carefully "proving all things," as Paul commanded us to do (I Thess. 5:21). They have retreated into the past, a time warp, where Herbert W. Armstrong -- despite his many faults, blemishes and errors -- is virtually "worshiped," put up on a pedestal, and glorified as the "Elijah" to come. Yet Herbert Armstrong himself admitted he was not a "prophet," and made many, many mistakes throughout his life. The prophecies concerning the coming "Elijah" say that he will restore the truth of YEHOVAH God. Herbert Armstrong did restore some of YEHOVAH's truth -- but far from all of it -- and he was in error on some very important points.
Furthermore, the Elijah to come is prophesied to "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers" (Mal. 4:6) -- and the dropout rate of young people from the Worldwide Church of God was enormous when Herbert Armstrong was alive. They have failed to truly reconcile fathers and children. Family break-ups were at record levels. Husbands were divorcing wives and wives were leaving husbands. The situation in the Worldwide Church of God, during Herbert Armstrong's later years, was chaotic, with divorce and remarriage at all-time highs. Certainly these would not be the "fruits" of the ministry of the "Elijah" to come!
Gerald Flurry is right to compare the present-day leader of the Worldwide Church of God to "Judas Iscariot." The modern leadership of the Church is indeed betraying Yeshua the Messiah and his truth!
The Great Errors of Gerald Flurry and The "Philadelphia Church of God"
However, Flurry is totally wrong to use the prophecy in Zechariah concerning "Joshua the high priest" and to claim it refers to Joseph Tkach. According to Flurry in his book Malachi's Message,
"Joshua was Zerubbabel's chief assistant. They are both end-time types of two men who work together just before Christ's return. Joshua rebelled and 'despised the day of small things.' He turned away from the way Zerubbabel built. That is how Satan got to him (Zech. 3:1).
"The 'man of sin' rules in God's Temple (or Church) and rejects the past instructions of 'he' who was 'taken out of the way' (II Thes. 2). There is to be a Judas-like betrayal today, just as there was with Joshua.
"And end-time Joshua and the 'man of sin' reign in God's Church just before Christ's return (Zech. 3:8; II Thes. 2:1-3). Are the one and the same? Both turn away from past instructions. Both have filthy garments. Failing to submit to Christ's government is the major problem of both men" (p. 61).
Sadly, this exegesis is all mixed up, spiritually. Joseph Tkach does not literally claim that he is "God." This prophecy can only refer to him as a secondary type, since he does "exalt himself" and sits in the "Church" and acts with brazen impunity as he changes doctrines.
Who is "Joshua" the High Priest?
Flurry also completely misunderstands the significance of "Joshua the high priest" in Zechariah 3, also. Let's notice this passage carefully. "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, 'The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?" (Zech. 3:1-2).
Notice! This man is snatched FROM the "fire." That means he is SAVED! He is a chosens vessel of Almighty God! He is most definitely NOT an "apostate" who starts out well but ends up going astray! Rather, the exact OPPOSITE is true! Let's continue the passage:
"Now Joshua was dressed in FILTHY CLOTHES as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, 'Take off his filthy clothes.' Then he said to Joshua, 'See, I have TAKEN AWAY YOUR SIN, and I will put rich garments on you.' Then I said, 'Put a clean turban on his head.' So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by" (Zech. 3:3-8).
This scene shows a man who was filthy with sins, but who REPENTED -- and who was then used mightily by YEHOVAH God! This describes the very opposite of a man plunging into APOSTASY -- it shows a man FORSAKING apostasy and REPENTING of a grievous, filthy, spiritual past!
In ancient times, Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor of Judah worked together, as a team, to rebuild the temple of YEHOVAH God, which was accomplished from 520 to 516 B.C. They were a powerful team -- Joshua did not forsake the Work of YEHOVAH God, as Gerald Flurry seems to claim, and plunge into apostasy -- not at all.
The TWO WITNESSES
Rather, he and Zerubbabel were TYPES of the end-time TWO WITNESSES of the Book of Revelation! Notice it! YEHOVAH God shows Zechariah a vision of a gold lampstand with seven lights, and two olive trees beside it (Zech. 4:1-3). YEHOVAH then says, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but BY MY SPIRIT,' says the LORD Almighty. What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of "God bless it!' God bless it!"' Then the word of the LORD came to me: 'The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation; his hands will also COMPLETE IT. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you" (Zech. 4:4-9).
Notice! This cannot refer to Herbert Armstrong, not even in type. Even if one suggests that YEHOVAH God used him to begin His end-time work in 1934, he is now DEAD. He most certainly will NOT "complete" or "finish" the Work of the Church! Therefore, he was NOT an end-time "type" or fulfillment of "Zerubbabel"! That should be perfectly plain.
The Scripture goes on, however, "Who despises the day of small things? Men will REJOICE when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. . .' Then I asked the angel, 'What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?' Again I asked him, 'What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?' He replied, 'Do you not know what these are?' 'No, my lord' I said. So he said, 'These are the TWO WHO ARE ANOINTED TO SERVE THE LORD of all the earth'" (Zech. 4:10-14).
What is this talking about? These two "anointed ones" were Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest! They were a type of the TWO WITNESSES of the End Time! They worked TOGETHER to finish and complete the WORK OF YEHOVAH GOD on earth, prior to the return of Yeshua the Messiah and YEHOVAH God Himself to this earth!
Therefore, in no way could this prophecy refer to Herbert Armstrong -- who is now DEAD -- and Joseph Tkach -- who has now turned ASIDE from the true paths of YEHOVAH God!
Rather, as John writes in the book of Revelation, Almighty God says:
"And I will give POWER TO MY TWO WITNESSES, and they will prophecy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These ARE the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how any one who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want" (Rev. 12:3-6).
How clear! Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel were two powerful servants of YEHOVAH God who were types of the end-time Two Witnesses prophesied in the book of Revelation. In no way, therefore, is "Joshua" a type of that miserable dog and cur Joseph W. Tkach who has sold his soul to the devil and has departed from the faith and followed in the diabolical footsteps of Judas Iscariot, the supreme traitor of all time!
Flurry and the "Temple"
Flurry is also dead wrong when he claims,
"Even if a temple is built in Jerusalem, it will not be the temple of God [his emphasis]. The Jews have not been commissioned to build God's temple -- as Zerubbabel was. If they build a temple, it would be the Jew's temple" ( Malachi's Message, p. 47).
This is utter nonsense. Furthermore, to claim that this Temple would not be YEHOVAH's Temple shows an astonishing lack of understanding. YEHOVAH God plainly COMMANDS His people, the Jews, to rebuild His Temple. The prophecies of Haggai are all about this phenomenal, coming event that occurs AFTER the return of Yeshua the Messiah. YEHOVAH God declares, "'Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and BUILD THE HOUSE, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,' says the LORD" (Haggai 1:8).
Talking about this coming Temple, YEHOVAH God says, "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more SHAKE THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, the sea and the dry land. I will SHAKE ALL NATIONS, and the desired of all nations [Yeshua the Messiah!] will COME, and I will fill this house [the Temple!] with glory,' says the LORD Almighty." One of the main things the Messiah will do when he returns is to build a new Temple so that the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God can reside in the Temple in Jerusalem!
'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty' (Hag. 2:6-9).
Gerald Flurry says any Temple the Jews build will not be YEHOVAH's Temple? That is exceedingly strange. Malachi the prophet declares: "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will COME TO HIS TEMPLE; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will COME,' says the LORD Almighty" (Malachi 3:1). YEHOVAH God the Father will return TO HIS TEMPLE in Jerusalem! One of the first things that must be accomplished by the Messiah after his return is the rebuilding of his Father's Temple! Then, when complete, YEHOVAH God Himself will descend in His Shekinah Glory and take up residence in the new Temple in Jerusalem! For more information on this vital subject read our articles, YEHOVAH's Glory to Reappear in Jerusalem! and The "Second Coming" of YEHOVAH God.
For a man who claims to be YEHOVAH's sole remaining representative on the earth, leading the sole remnant of the "one true Church," Gerald Flurry shows an astonishing amount of ignorance and an equally astonishing degree of pride and vanity and cocksure pompous arrogance. A little more "humility" would be much more becoming. YEHOVAH God says, "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and TREMBLES AT MY WORD" (Isaiah 66:2).
The Mystery of the 144,000 Garbled Again!
Flurry is also wrong in claiming that the Laodicean Church is the 144,000 and will all perish in the Great Tribulation, suffering martyrdom. He completely twists the Scriptures in Revelation 3 to suit his purpose, claiming that the promise in Revelation 3:21 is not given to the repentant Laodicean Christians at all but is part of the promise of the Philadelphia Church (whose own reward is actually mentioned in Rev. 3:11-13). For Flurry to apply the promise the Messiah makes to repentant Laodiceans to the Philadelphia Church's reward is pure, unadulterated hogwash!
The "Great Tribulation," as many like to call it, occurred back in 70 A.D. when the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman armies with more than a million Jews killed and carried into slavery. It is NOT some future event that will occur just prior to the Messiah's return. It is manifestly evident that the tribulation or "trouble" mentioned in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 is that which was to envelop the people of Jerusalem and Judea -- trouble that would result in the destruction of their city and Temple.
When Yeshua spoke of tribulation "worse than there has ever been from the beginning of the world until now" he was using a proverbial form of expression. Similar expressions can be found throughout the scriptures. Some might argue that there have been greater times of tribulation since 70 A.D., but we should not try to press this expression beyond its intended meaning -- which was the tribulation and devastation that enveloped the land of Judea when the Romans invaded the land. For more information, read the article Is the "Great Tribulation" Really in the Future?
Flurry states that the 144,000 of Revelation are "sealed" after the so-called Great Tribulation and before the Day of the Lord (Rev. 6:9-16; 7:1-4).
"The Laodiceans will DIE and be sealed during the 2 1/2 year Tribulation. Therefore, we can see that the 144,000 of God's people receive their salvation through the Tribulation experience -- and death" (p. 29).
This is utterly false! He adds,
"Again, the Bible indicates that all the Laodiceans who enter God's Kingdom must DIE for God (Rev. 6:9-11; 12:11-12). You should read every word. . . . The Laodiceans have to prove themselves by dying for God" (p. 30, his emphasis).
These Scriptures simply do not say what Gerald Flurry says they say. Who then are the real 144,000 of Revelation? Let's understand! While much of the Book of Revelation is written in highly symbolic language, there are TWO clear points of identification regarding the 144,000 that we should carefully note:
1/. The 144,000 are taken out of "all the tribes of the children of ISRAEL" (Revelation 7:14).
2/. The 144,000 are "the FIRSTFRUITS unto God and to the Lamb" (Revelation 14:4).
Revelation 7:4 states that the 144,000 are taken from "all the tribes of the children of ISRAEL." Then, in verse 9, we read: "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of ALL NATIONS and kindreds, and people and tongues" who were also redeemed by the Lamb (Yeshua the Messiah) -- a huge ingathering from the Gentiles. The 144,000 were from Israel; the innumerable multitude from all nations. It is very clear that the 144,000 were converts from Israel -- Israel in the LITERAL sense of the word!
Next, according to Revelation 14:4, the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel are "the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." Note the term "FIRSTFRUITS"! In the Old Testament the term "firstfruits" designated the FIRST gatherings of the crop which was presented to YEHOVAH God -- see Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 2:14 and Nehemiah 10:35. In the New Testament, Yeshua the Messiah, who was "the FIRST that should rise from the dead" to immortality (Acts 26:23), is called "the FIRSTFRUITS of them that slept" (I Corinthians 15:20). And so here, in a similar fashion, the 144,000 -- the firstfruits unto the Lamb (the Messiah) -- are the first converts to Yeshua the Messiah!
And who were the first converts? It is quite clear -- there can be no mistake about it! The gospel first went to Israelites and THE FIRST CONVERTS WERE FROM ISRAEL!
The converts from Israel in the early years of YEHOVAH's church -- back in the first century A.D.! -- were the firstfruits unto the Lamb and are symbolized by the number 144,000. This is a perfect fit scripturally and historically. But -- and consider this -- if the 144,000 have not yet made their appearance, as Flurry and others seem to think, HOW in the world could they possibly be "the firstfruits unto the Lamb"? If the 144,000 do not appear until the very last years of this age, they would be the LAST FRUITS instead of the first! For more vital information on this subject, read our article The 144,000 -- Future Or Fulfilled?
What is this "sealing"? It cannot be receiving of YEHOVAH's spirit -- they already have that, being "servants of God." To claim that is is "death," as Flurry does, makes no sense whatsoever. What, then, is it? Notice!
The Mystery of the "Mark"
"Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, 'Bring the guards of the city here, each with a WEAPON in his hand.' And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar. . . . Then the LORD called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, 'Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and PUT A MARK on the FOREHEADS of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.'"
Ezekiel continues: "As I listened, he said to the others [other angels], 'Follow him through the city and KILL, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter old me, young men and maidens, women and children, but DO NOT TOUCH ANYONE WHO HAS THE MARK" (Ezekiel 9:1-6).
This "mark" is the same thing as the "seal" in Revelation 7:3 -- it is the "seal" or "mark" of divine PROTECTION and setting apart! In other words, the PLAGUES OF YEHOVAH GOD which will fall upon the earth during the Day of the Lord, will not harm or touch the "sealed" and protected servants of YEHOVAH God who are still alive at that time! They will be supernaturally SPARED and SAVED from the judgment that will fall upon the heads of all the wicked!
"The Government of YEHOVAH God"?
Unfortunately, Gerald Flurry's so-called "Philadelphia Church of God" is no more the true "Philadelphia Church" than is the Worldwide Church of God or the Church of God, International! It is just one more off shoot of Worldwide -- one more "sect" that has arisen during these last days to lead people astray into error! Satan the devil seems to have a slot for virtually everybody, and many subtle ways in which to deceive people.
Flurry believes that the "government of God" is only in his "church" group today. He thunders at everybody else:
"When we reach 'the great and dreadful day of the Lord,' all rebellion from the Church against the Elijah Work [which he claims is his work] is removed. At that point, all Firstfruits support what Christ has restored through HWA or they are dead spirtually! Even though HWA died before 'the great and dreadful Day of the Lord,' there are many who still don't support what Christ restored though him. When that Day arrives, ALL CHURCH MEMBERS WHO STILL REBEL AGAINST GOD'S GOVERNMENT WILL BE CUT OFF FOREVER!" (p. 29, whew!).
Flurry's "church government" is no more YEHOVAH God's Government on earth than Worldwide's, Church of God, International's, or any other sect or cult today! He says of those he calls "Laodiceans," "They have a serious GOVERNMENT PROBLEM. They are in the Tribulation for that very reason!" (ibid.). But Flurry's group has shown it has that identical problem!
Flurry threatens all who don't follow HIM and his group with DEATH in the Great Tribulation, unless they repent NOW. He claims their "sealing" means being MARTYRED during the Great Tribulation. What a total perversion and twisting of the plain and simple Scriptures of Revelation 6, 7 and 12! Knowing that we serve a righteous and a just God, I suspect that YEHOVAH God will reserve for Gerald Flurry and his group the very punishment that he so quickly threatens so many others with! I would sincerely not want to be "caught" among them.
On the last page of his book, page 83, Flurry asks the question:
"WHO HAS A GOVERNMENT PROBLEM?"
"We are going to be accused of rebelling against God and His authority. WE ARE DOING JUST THE OPPOSITE! . . . Who has a government problem? The whole battle we face is struggling to cling to Christ's government. . . . WE ARE NOT REBELLING -- WE ARE TAKING A STAND AGAINST THOSE WHO ARE!"
Of course, Joseph Tkach and the Worldwide Church of God do accuse Flurry and his group of rebelling against "Church authority" and the "government of God." But now Flurry and his group are accusing others of the very same thing when they disagree with him! So what we see here are "two wolves," all right -- the Worldwide "wolf" gnashing its teeth at a rebellious young "whelp" of a "wolf" which has led off a group of people to follow him to his own rendezvous with destiny.
If Flurry were taking a stand against those who are rebelling against YEHOVAH God, and if he were standing up for the TRUTH of YEHOVAH God, and not just for old ERRORS and doctrinal mistakes of the past, then I would have nothing against him -- I would cheer him and and root for his team. But alas, I cannot do that. The "fruits" have proven that his group is just another "miniature Worldwide" with all of its governmental errors and doctrinal faults -- including the abuse of authority and stubborn refusal to admit and confess their mistakes, and to repent and receive proven and provable new Truth!
"BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE -- NOT MEN!"
Finally, Flurry ends his book:
"Brethren, please study and digest this message, and pray fervently for God to guide you. BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE -- NOT MEN! Your eternal life hangs in the balance" (p. 83, Malachi's Message).
On this one thing Gerald Flurry is certainly right.
You should definitely "BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE -- NOT MEN!" (p. 83). And that includes Gerald Flurry!
Flurry also tells people who read his book, "
"GOD COMMANDS -- TEST YOUR LEADERS" (page 5).
This also is very good advice. And it applies just as much to Gerald Flurry as it does to Joseph W. Tkach, or any other man on the earth, today!
He is also right, when he says, on page 4, that the apostle John had a "run in" with a certain church leader of his time, one Diotrephes, who would not let the brethren receive emissaries from John, but forbad them from doing so and even "puts them out of the church," John wrote (III John 9-10). Flurry says these cast out ones were the faithful brethren, the one's who had YEHOVAH God's holy spirit. These cast out ones became the new faithful Church of YEHOVAH God, while the visible organization under Diotrephes went into apostasy.
"The point is, THOSE CLOSE TO GOD FOLLOWED JESUS CHRIST -- not some of the deceived leaders in God's Church."
"We often ask the question, 'Is he out of the Church?' But that isn't the most important question. That isn't the question the Apostle John was most concerned about. His followers were 'cast out' of the Ephesus Church [era -- II John 9,10] -- but it was because they were actually FOLLOWING CHRIST! Following Christ has gotten many people kicked out of God's Churches -- when those Churches were going astray. A CHRISTIAN IS ONE WHO FOLLOWS CHRIST -- not a man or a church organization" (p. 4, Malachi's Message).
Isn't that amazing? Gerald Flurry knows this truth. He even writes about it. Indeed, a TRUE CHRISTIAN IS ONE WHO FOLLOWS THE MESSIAH! But then Flurry does the very same thing DIOTREPHES DID whom the apostle John had his confrontation with -- he casts true Christians out of the Church! Flurry does the very same thing to others that Joseph Tkach and his minions in Pasadena did to him!
Is that the right "Christian example" to be set?
Is Flurry, therefore, really "FOLLOWING CHRIST?"
The experience of the man who was in the "Philadelphia Church of God" for a while speaks volumes concerning the true state of affairs of the "Philadelphia Church of God."
His letter is very revealing and definitely shows a wrong attitude on the part of the ministry -- a self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitude that is blind to error and their own mistakes and shortcomings. The Messiah himself will deal with such reprehensible, devious ministers who refuse to repent when confronted with the plain and simple Word of YEHOVAH God.
"WOE To the Shepherds"!
The Word of YEHOVAH God thunders, "To the shepherds: Thus said the Lord GOD: Ah, you shepherds of Israel, who have been tending yourselves! Is it not the flock that the shepherds ought to tend? You partake of the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, and YOU SLAUGHTER the fatlings; but you do not tend the flock. You have not sustained the weak, healed the sick, or bandaged the injured; you have NOT BROUGHT BACK THE STRAYED, or looked for the LOST; but you have DRIVEN THEM WITH HARSH RIGOR, and they have been scattered for want of anyone to tend them" (Ezek. 34:2-5, Tanakh).
Jeremiah the prophet wrote, "'WOE to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!' declares the LORD. Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: 'Because you have SCATTERED my flock and DRIVEN THEM AWAY [through "disfellowhipment" as well as other means, including "boring them to death" in some cases] and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow PUNISHMENT on you for the EVIL you have done,' declares the LORD'" (Jer. 23:1-2).
John Amos, one of the two top ministers of the "Philadelphia Church of God" -- I have to put that name in quotation marks, because by their fruits they certainly are NOT the "Church of Brotherly Love," which the name "Philadelphia" would imply -- accused a man of having a "hang-up" about Passover and the 144,000. But I have noticed it is the one who does the accusing who usually has the real spiritual "hang-ups."
The leaders of the "Philadelphia Church of God" appear to be stuck in "neutral" spiritually and are going nowhere fast. As the letter writer said, they have all the major "truth" virtually "frozen solid" -- as of the time of Herbert Armstrong -- except what Gerald Flurry decides to change, for his own benefit.
Concerning the Passover controversy, Flurry and Amos both should read our many articles on this subject which prove beyond any question that Passover must be observed at the END of Nisan 14, on Nisan 15, the same time as the Jews have always observed it. The wine and unleavened bread are to be taken with the Passover meal or seder, in a family setting, the only difference being they represent the blood and body of the Messiah our Saviour who rescued us from sin.
Likewise, they should study into the subject of the right days to observe Pentecost and the weekly Sabbath. These days have been grievously misunderstood due to the corruption of the calendar and the lack of understanding of YEHOVAH God's true lunar week.
I sincerely hope that Gerald Flurry and John Amos will both come to full repentance before they go so far adrift from the truth which they once held that they earn for themselves the full, undiluted and undiminished WRATH and fury of YEHOVAH God, which He will pour out on the wicked shepherds, the evil ministers, and all those who MISLEAD YEHOVAH's people!
As the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, "The WRATH OF GOD is being revealed from heaven against ALL the godlessness and wickedness of MEN WHO SUPPRESS THE TRUTH by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. . . . so that [these] men are without excuse" (Rom. 1:18-20).
This is no small matter, but something all should take with the utmost seriousness and urgency.
At the present time, the "Philadelphia Church of God" possesses fatal and dangerous errors. They came out of Worldwide, but not "all the way out" of Babylon! They still have the Babylonian, authoritarian, despotic form of "church government" which does not come from Scripture but from Babylon and the tyranny of Roman Catholicism, masquerading as the truth of YEHOVAH God. YEHOVAH's true ministers are not autocrats or dictators -- they are loving and gentle shepherds who love the flock with tenderness and rule with meekness and gentlesness (I Pet. 5:1-4; Matt. 23:8-12).
The "Philadelphia Church of God," as it seems to boastfully call itself -- not illustrative of what I would call an attitude of humility -- needs to repent, and develop an attitude of true humility. Certainly, people need to be warned against every vestige of false teaching that remains in the Worldwide Church of God. But we need also to repent and change every vestige or particle of error that formerly was taught by the Worldwide Church of God. Just "following Herbert W. Armstrong" as he used to teach is not good enough. He was still just a man -- mortal, fallible, weak, and sinful. Following him blindly would be no safer than following any man blindly!
The Scriptures state unequivocally: "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing" (Psalms 146:3-4). This certainly happened in the case of Herbert Armstrong. He left the Work of YEHOVAH God in the hands of a spiritual FOOL!
The Word of YEHOVAH God says, "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes" -- or ministers or any human leaders (Psalms 118:8-9).
I hope and pray that the leaders of the Philadelphia Church of God will come to a much fuller and deeper repentance and submission to the will of YEHOVAH God. It is right that they should help expose the errors of Worldwide -- but they should not blind themselves to REAL new truth, and bring people into servitude and cruel "bondage" to themselves -- replacing one dictatorship with another! They themselves must also open their eyes to the fact that Herbert Armstrong did not have all the truth, and that we must continue to GROW in grace and the knowledge of YEHOVAH's Word and HIS LAWS (II Pet. 3:18). If they follow the example of Worldwide, and put people out for asking questions, or bringing up serious new truth, then they are no better than the apostates they are fleeing from -- they are just "the pot calling the kettle black" -- modern hypocrites! We should not rejects the extremism of Worldwide only to retreat into a rigid reactionary neo-conservative cultism.
-- Edited By John D. Keyser.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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