Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Primacy of Peter and the Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God!
When you sit down and think about it, there is no SIMPLER subject on the face of the earth! Yet, for thousands of years, men have done ALL in their power -- sparing no effort or expense -- to CLOUD, CONFUSE and COMPLICATE this very simple subject. WHY?
by John D. Keyser
The entire answer to the question of church government can be told in one small paragraph. However, men have been so deceived for so long by governments about government, that to satisfy every question or objection would fill many volumes.
Herbert W. Armstrong (late Pastor-General of the Worldwide Church of God) energetically and powerfully preached AGAINST government within the Ecclesia during the first twenty years of his ministry. He condemned it as IDOLATRY!
Yet, over time, all this has changed. In fact, it is quite stunning to realize that one man could hold such opposite views on one subject in one lifetime! Nevertheless, he did.
In the early years of the Ecclesia YEHOVAH gave Herbert Armstrong MUCH TRUTH and I, for one, am deeply grateful to have been exposed to that truth. It was like "life from the dead" because, for me, it was. However, he was a man and made mistakes.
Before his death in 1986, for whatever reasons, he brought an ANCIENT ERROR into the Ecclesia. This error has grown like a CANCER and spread to other Churches of God; until, today, it casts an ominous shadow over every aspect of Church life. And, if it is not soon checked, it will DESTROY the Churches -- as it has done so many times before.
The Great Historical Error!
This error is certainly not unique to our time. It can be found in the history books under many names -- in fact, to a great degree, it IS history!
Because the Worldwide Church of God used to preach so strongly AGAINST this error, and because this doctrine is the VERY FOUNDATION of the Catholic Church, those who now rule in the Churches of God would very much like to DISTANCE themselves from the ancient PAGAN DOCTRINE of "THE PRIMACY OF PETER."
However, this CENTRAL doctrine of the Churches of God will not be denied! Deny it as they will -- it is still there!
If you take any book on Catholic theology and COMPARE it with the April 1979 Good News, as well as with Mr. Armstrong's book Mystery of the Ages, you will find the doctrine of the primacy of Peter to be almost IDENTICAL -- even in form and layout! Further, in the November 20, 1978 Good News (article, "How Christ Gave the Church Its Beliefs" -- page 14, column 5) you will find the following statement: "Now notice how Jesus gave Peter PRIMACY over apostles...."
Actually, scores of articles have been published by the Churches of God that lay out, in great detail, the PRINCIPLES of government upon which these churches rest. The bottom line is -- the Worldwide Church of God, and others, DO INDEED believe and teach the doctrine of the primacy of Peter! And when Joseph Tkach took over, then his son, NOTHING CHANGED regarding this doctrine!
Men have always denied that which makes them look bad. The Worldwide Church of God is no exception. But, realize this, once you understand the heart or the CENTRAL CORE of the "Primacy" doctrine -- its motives and its purpose -- it no longer matters what name men attach to it. A ten-year-old child could spot it!
The Worldwide Church of God and the Catholic Church are by no means the only groups practicing this ancient doctrine. It is a prominent part of the so-called Philadelphia Church of God as well as Meredith's Living Church of God and Dankenbring's Triumph Prophetic Ministries. In one form or another, it holds a place of high honor within the doctrinal framework or policies of most of the churches of modern-day "Christianity." And, note well, most -- if not all -- of the great PAGAN RELIGIONS of the world also hold this doctrine close to their hearts.
This ancient doctrine is the SINGLE GREATEST TOOL ever devised by errant church leaders to preserve UNITY. All the great despots of history have used it to preserve unity amongst their peoples. It is, without a doubt, the "perfect" form of government.
In actuality, it is the one SATAN uses!
The doctrine of the primacy of peter was brought to the point of perfection by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church of God -- and has maintained UNITY within that organization for the better part of the last 2,000 years.
The Caesars of Rome used it to maintain order and unity throughout the Roman Empire for hundreds of years. By the time the Church of Rome adopted it, it had been well tested and honed to a fine degree!
No other doctrine of government can boast anything like the success enjoyed by this VILE and PERVERTED teaching.
The awesome power of this doctrine to manipulate and control the minds of men and to strike fear into their hearts, is the result of the belief that Yeshua the Messiah has empowered a man to RULE his Church for him -- IN HIS PLACE -- until he and YEHOVAH God return.
This doctrine places a MAN in the enviable and POWERFUL position of being the SOLE SPOKESMAN for the Messiah on this earth.
Every government, or dynasty, or church in the history of the world, which stood for any length of time, had at its head an emperor, or a king, or a High Priest. These leaders either claimed to be a god, or claimed to be the SOLE REPRESENTATIVE for YEHOVAH God on earth.
Human leaders soon learned that to maintain ABSOLUTE POWER over the minds of men for a long period of time, they must have power over the AFTER-LIFE of their subjects.
Men can be persuaded to follow a mortal man only to a certain point. But a god -- or a man with the power of a god -- now that's an altogether different story! A man who has been "empowered by YEHOVAH" to eternally remove you from the presence of the Messiah for disobedience to HIS edicts, or HIS interpretation of scripture, is a man to be obeyed!
Now that's REAL POWER if a man can pronounce upon you a sentence of eternal death, and make it stick, or perhaps even consign you to the depths of hell for all eternity! This is the kind of power with which a church can preserve unity!
But, the Messiah has NEVER given this kind of power to mortal men!
The apostle Peter certainly did not have this power. He was not even able to maintain unity in the first-century church -- nor was Paul! If you read Galatians 1-3, I Corinthians 1-5, II Thessalonians 2, II Timothy 4 and many other verses in the Bible, you will clearly see that Peter and Paul could not even enforce unity over the very churches they raised up. Peter, therefore, could not have passed to his supposed successor a POWER WHICH HE OBVIOUSLY DID NOT HAVE!
The question remains: Why was it not possible for the spirit of YEHOVAH to preserve unity -- even under the leadership of men such as Peter and Paul?
The answer is VERY SIMPLE: The holy spirit of YEHOVAH God does NOT exercise the power of paganism. I Corinthians 14:32 states: "Remember that a person who has a message from God HAS THE POWER to stop himself and wait his turn." The spirit of YEHOVAH does not force -- it leads, and a man must WILLINGLY follow, or not at all!
Understand that it is SATAN THE DEVIL and his governments who wish to "POSSESS" your will, and your mind -- NOT YEHOVAH!
I am not saying that the Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God does not have ANY authority, because it plainly does, but not in the sense that is taught by the doctrine of the "primacy of Peter."
The early apostles had the authority to teach the TRUE doctrines YEHOVAH -- see Matthew 28:18-20. Yeshua told them to teach all things, "all the COMMANDMENTS [of YEHOVAH] I gave you." Their power extended all the way to the edge of the SPIRIT of the Law of YEHOVAH God -- AND NOT ONE INCH FURTHER! "We have no power to resist the truth; only to further it" (II Corinthians 13:8).
Why Do Governments Exist?
But, you might ask, "How can we resolve issues in which the Bible is not clear?"
The answer is simple. People who are not willing to YIELD to the spirit of YEHOVAH must FOREVER bicker and fight over minor, insignificant issues -- such as makeup, what color car to buy and which brand of toilet paper to use!
Those who do not have the Messiah dwelling within them simply CANNOT agree with one another without the FORCE of government. It's that simple. And men, who love to rule over other men, always use this bickering by small minded people as an EXCUSE to opt for GOVERNMENT!
Yet, did YEHOVAH say anything about government in the Garden of Eden?
Did YEHOVAH say anything about government from Mount Sinai in Arabia?
Did the apostle Peter say anything about government at that Pentecost in Acts 2?
Why has government always been established?
Why did Moses finally set up a system of judges at Sinai?
Why? Because men were too CARNAL to judge themselves.
Why did YEHOVAH institute the sacrificial system in Israel? Because of TRANSGRESSION -- see Jeremiah 7:22 and Galatians 3:19.
Because, without the spirit of YEHOVAH, men would not OBEY the truth of YEHOVAH God.
Because, without the spirit of YEHOVAH, the heart of man is not moved to seek the good of others!
Because, without the spirit of YEHOVAH, the heart of man is continually seeking after the SELF, and is willing to disobey the Law of YEHOVAH God AND the holy spirit to get what it wants! This is the way man is, and this is the REASON YEHOVAH God has ordained government and allowed government.
This, unfortunately, is also the historical justification men have always used to develop government, and to crank out great piles of legislation that always results in a LOSS OF LIBERTY for everyone!
Please understand that YEHOVAH DOES NOT love government. He gets no satisfaction from controlling and manipulating every little facet of the lives of His people! He has better things to do with His time! He does not want to continually walk around looking for someone who is out of line, so that he can correct them and drag them in a direction they do not wish to go!
Only men who are MENTALLY DEFICIENT enjoy this kind of thing! Men like Hitler! Men like Mussolini! Men like Joseph Tkach! Men like Gerald Flurry! Men like Rod Meredith! Men like Bill Dankenbring! Men like Richard Scott!
If you read the Bible you will soon realize that YEHOVAH never said one word about government until MEN FORCED HIM TO -- by trampling all over His holy, righteous Law! He did not even say anything to Eve about being "under" the authority of her husband until she had proven unwilling to be "under" the authority of YEHOVAH.
You must understand that the Government of YEHOVAH God, the increase of which "there shall be no end," is the GOVERNMENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! It is this governing of each mind by the holy spirit (by the express desire and consent of that mind) that is the TRUE GOVERNMENT OF YEHOVAH GOD!
Danger of the Primacy of Peter
Because of mankind's sin, YEHOVAH allows any form of government conceived by the mind of man as a TEMPORARY Band-Aid. However, at their worst these governments are pure, unadulterated wickedness!
Now, the doctrine of the "Primacy of Peter," or the "Vicar of Christ," or the "Hierarchy of Order" gives a man (in simple terms) the SOLE AUTHORITY to interpret the Bible, define sin and set doctrine.
Furthermore, it gives him the authority to BIND his interpretations, definitions and doctrines upon the conscience of other men. His decisions, therefore, become binding (according to this doctrine) before Almighty God -- binding upon pain of disfellowshipment, eternal death or even eternal torture in hell-fire!
Men can only work together in peace through the SPIRIT OF YEHOVAH, otherwise they must have a government controlling their actions! When men resist YEHOVAH's spirit it departs from them, to be replaced by their own selfish desires.
To maintain peace, those groups of men (or churches) who are resisting the spirit of YEHOVAH MUST resort to one of the many forms of government patterned after the primacy of Peter. Once a church begins to resist the influence of the holy spirit, only TWO OPTIONS are available: Break up and go their separate ways, or develop government.
A study of history soon reveals that EVERY government of men inevitably becomes dissatisfied with merely directing the actions of men. Eventually they always seek to CONTROL their very consciences.
Governments of Men
The first government on this side of the flood was formed by Nimrod (known as Osiris in Egyptian history) with, no surprise here, himself at its head. This government was "before" or in opposition to, the LORD. Nimrod's great desire was to rule all men, who were to answer directly to him instead of to YEHOVAH God.
It was YEHOVAH's intent that men should separate, "be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4), but Nimrod wanted to keep them in Babylon. He wanted to rule them, and tax them, and live like a king on their backs!
YEHOVAH, on the other hand, wanted all men to be called by His name. But, the people of Babylon said, "Let US make a name for OURSELVES..." (Genesis 11:4). These rebellious men did not want the name of YEHOVAH -- they did not want to retain THE KNOWLEDGE OF YEHOVAH GOD in their minds (Romans 1:28).
Since the nation of Egypt was also founded by Nimrod, it too fell heir to this system of government, and in time ENSLAVED the children of Abraham -- the Israelites.
When YEHOVAH destroyed the power of Egypt with the plagues, He offered His government -- the TRUE GOVERNMENT -- to the freed children of Abraham, His friend. But, as the Bible reveals, the children of Abraham could not bear to have YEHOVAH speak to them. It was at this point, at Mount Sinai, that they REJECTED the direct rule of YEHOVAH in their lives. They wanted an INTERMEDIARY. They wanted YEHOVAH to speak to Moses, and then Moses to relay the message to the people.
Even then they could not bear to look upon Moses. A VEIL was placed over his face. THE PEOPLE HAD CUT THEMSELVES OFF FROM DIRECT CONTACT WITH YEHOVAH! This was later emphasized when a VEIL was placed before the Holy of Holies -- barring all ACCESS to YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory. Only the High Priest -- an INTERMEDIARY -- had access to the Holy of Holies, and that was only once a year on the Day of Atonement!
Moses, therefore, instituted the system of judges, but even this contact with YEHOVAH was too direct for these poor, carnal people!
At the end of the period of the judges, the people came to Samuel the Prophet and said: "Now make for us A KING to judge us LIKE ALL THE NATIONS. But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, 'Give us a king to judge us.' So Samuel prayed to the Lord."
Why did this displease Samuel so?
"And the Lord said to Samuel, 'Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but THEY HAVE REJECTED ME, THAT I SHOULD NOT REIGN OVER THEM' " (I Samuel 8:4-7). The Israelites DID NOT want YEHOVAH to rule over them or to judge them. They wanted to be just like all the pagan nations around them. They wanted to return to the system of government that YEHOVAH had delivered them from when Moses led them out of Egypt. They wanted to return to THE RULE OF MEN! In other words, they wanted TO RETURN TO BABYLON -- whence all forms of pagan governments had originated! This, my friends, was the "thing" that displeased Samuel.
After YEHOVAH told Samuel about all the evil a king would bring upon the Israelites, he relayed the message to the people. "Nevertheless the people REFUSED TO OBEY the voice of Samuel; and they said, 'No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the [pagan] nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles' " (verses 19-20).
It was amazing! This people had once had the very Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH among them day and night. Now they chose instead to glory in THE GOVERNMENT OF A MAN. They chose to glory in their shame -- and they separated themselves even further from YEHOVAH.
YEHOVAH had clearly explained to them that if they would OBEY His laws, their influence would grow to fill the whole earth. But the Israelites DID NOT OBEY HIS LAWS. At the end of the period of the kings, YEHOVAH gave the government back to the gentiles whence he had taken it!
In matters of truth YEHOVAH has ALWAYS required men to answer DIRECTLY to Him. Very often, He has chosen to allow those men to suffer for it.
The children of Abraham (or, the Israelites) have changed little over the centuries. If the truth be known, THEY HAVE BECOME EVEN MORE FOOLISH! Why? Because today they have exchanged the glory of the very spirit of YEHOVAH (dwelling in their minds) for the same old PAGAN LIE -- the "Primacy" of a man!
They have prostrated themselves before the "Image of the Beast" and have REJECTED the Messiah! They have bowed themselves before the leering idol of the First Doctrine of Babylon -- GOVERNMENT! They have, in fact, once again become IDOLATERS!
You see, my friends, in reality there are only TWO FORMS OF GOVERNMENT: The TRUE government of YEHOVAH, or one of the many varieties of governments foisted on mankind by Satan. It is sad to realize that men have needed these governments BECAUSE of their REBELLION against the Law of YEHOVAH. YEHOVAH, therefore, has allowed these governments to hold sway over them.
Yet, if you have the ears to hear, this very need alone -- this need for a STRONG CENTRALIZED GOVERNMENT (and, of all places, within the Church of God) -- should REVEAL to the true people of YEHOVAH God how very far they have drifted from the faith once delivered to the Saints!
The people of YEHOVAH God, of all people, should not be DECEIVED by this FALSE SYSTEM -- regardless of the way it is packaged or regardless of what name is given to it. Because, you see, it does not matter what it is called, or how carefully it is colored.
Churches of God DO Teach the Primacy of Peter
The Worldwide Church of God, the so-called Philadelphia Church of God, the Living Church of God and Dankenbring's church all believe that the other apostles answered to Peter. They firmly believe he was the chief apostle. These churches (and others) have developed church governments based on this CATHOLIC ERROR!
These churches believe they have the power to "SET" doctrine and require men to BELIEVE and OBEY that doctrine!
Not only that, they also believe they have been granted the POWER to affix spiritual penalties to those who disagree with their interpretations of scripture. They believe YEHOVAH has granted them this power! In other words, they fully believe they can throw you out of the Church of God, rip the holy spirit from your mind and, unless you repent to THEIR representative and accept THEIR opinions and THEIR authority over you, YEHOVAH will relegate you to the lake of fire!
What colossal arrogance!
Call it what you please -- a rose by any other name is still a rose! A Pope by any other name is still a Pope!
There is, my friends, a HUGE, OVERWHELMING DIFFERENCE between requiring a minimum standard of decent behavior within a church (out of LOVE for the Church) and LIFTING yourself up over the people of YEHOVAH God -- RULING them and their conscience toward YEHOVAH. This should be obvious!
Primacy Cuts Man Off From YEHOVAH!
Isn't it obvious to you that this one EVIL DOCTRINE is responsible for a large portion of the combined sorrow of mankind? This VILE SATANIC LIE is responsible for man's grief because it CUTS MAN OFF from his Creator -- his God. It is cleverly and subtly positioned BETWEEN men and Yeshua the Messiah -- who is our High Priest before YEHOVAH. It is an intermediary!
Satan created it to frighten and confuse YEHOVAH's people, and he's done a masterful job! It is his greatest creation -- his most effective tool to DENY mankind the spirit of YEHOVAH!
The doctrine of primacy is PAGAN to the very core -- it is the very embodiment of all that is pagan! Six thousand years of wars and hatred, filth and corruption lie within this teaching. Human suffering BEYOND MEASURE lies at its doorstep. It is EVIL INCARNATE!
It is responsible for the greatest atrocities men have ever performed upon other men, the pogroms and excesses of history, the Inquisition, the Holocaust and the mass starvations of Stalin -- just to name a few!
From the days of Nimrod or Osiris, the first post-flood leader to set up governments in rebellion against YEHOVAH, the doctrine of the "PRIMACY" has left its BLOODY TRAIL down through the successive kingdoms of the book of Daniel -- to the present evil day.
The pages of history are replete with VILE acts perpetrated by VILE men who ruled over the kingdoms of nations. These VILE men demanded ABSOLUTE LOYALTY AND OBEDIENCE from their blinded subjects. They claimed to be the SOLE REPRESENTATIVE OF YEHOVAH on earth (some even claimed to BE God!). And poor, deceived, frightened little people believed them -- and poor, deceived, frightened little people continue to believe them today!
From Nero the Beast, to Pope Innocent III and his Inquisition, to Adolf Hitler and Stalin, these loathsome, insane despots believed themselves to be appointed by YEHOVAH God to dictate the consciences of men! These vile, despicable men (each operating under exactly the same form of government) hacked and butchered, slaughtered and persecuted innocent men, women and children by the hundreds of millions.
It is impossible to calculate the combined sorrow, pain and grief that has been caused by this one utterly SATANIC doctrine of GOVERNMENT. It is, without doubt, the first and MOST LOVED doctrine of the ENEMIES of YEHOVAH God!
The Very Essence of Anti-Christ!
The doctrine of primacy is the very essence of Anti-Christ! This doctrine DENIES the presence and the AUTHORITY of the spirit of YEHOVAH in the mind of the individual.
Notice what I John 4:3 says, "and every spirit that DOES NOT confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the SPIRIT OF THE ANTICHRIST, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world." Let me add, "And in the Church of God!"
It is this "spirit of Anti-Christ" that DENIES that the holy spirit is living within the TRUE Christian. This "spirit of Anti-Christ" refuses to allow the spirit of YEHOVAH to interpret the scriptures to the Christian. In Catholic terminology this translates to: "Only the PRIESTHOOD is qualified to interpret the scriptures"!
The spirit of Anti-Christ will not, no, cannot admit that a true Christian can know YEHOVAH God APART from it. THIS WICKED SPIRIT WILL NOT ADMIT THAT A CHRISTIAN HAS DIRECT ACCESS TO YEHOVAH THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT!
Within the Catholic Church of God, or the Worldwide Church of God today, or Dankenbring's church, only the Pope or the Apostle is qualified to interpret the scriptures! It is considered rebellion against the authority of the Messiah to disagree with THEIR interpretation. To receive salvation, you must accept THEIR interpretation of scripture!
The spirit of Anti-Christ claims the right to perform the function of the holy spirit. In other words, it REPLACES "Christ in you" -- it is IN THE PLACE OF YESHUA THE MESSIAH! It is his VICAR!
The spirit of Anti-Christ, in its ultimate prophetic fulfillment as "the Man of Sin" (II Thessalonians 2), will DEMAND absolute, unquestioning obedience to him and his doctrines -- regardless of conscience! Notice what Paul says: "Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits AS GOD in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (II Thessalonians 2:4).
He thinks he is the ultimate "government of God on earth!"
He usurps the prerogative of the holy spirit because it is the spirit of YEHOVAH which BINDS DOCTRINE upon the conscience of men -- writes it in their hearts and minds.
Understand this: Whenever men take to themselves the powers of YEHOVAH, they make of themselves a God. In their extreme arrogance they step into the office of Yeshua the Messiah and stand up before the Church, and take to themselves the APPLAUSE and the PRAISE. They promote FEAR -- and even, eventually, WORSHIP -- of themselves, which belongs ONLY to the Messiah and YEHOVAH God the Father.
Brethren -- LOOK AROUND YOU TODAY, IS THIS NOT TAKING PLACE IN THE CHURCHES OF GOD?
These FALSE MINISTERS love the applause and the praise, and will do ANYTHING to keep from losing it! These ministers violently deny that a Christian can be accepted by YEHOVAH without THEIR approval and THEIR guidance.
The spirit of Anti-Christ also denies that the Christian can be accepted by YEHOVAH without his approval. He will not accept the notion that a man who lives in this world -- "HIS WORLD" -- is not required to go through him (use him as an intermediary) to receive the approval of YEHOVAH. He also will not accept that a man has DIRECT ACCESS to the mind of YEHOVAH -- in a way he NEVER can! He simply CANNOT BEAR the eternal fact that EVERY KNEE (including his own) must bow only to the Messiah and the Father.
But what is even more difficult for him to admit, is that the ONLY hope of salvation is through the presence of the spirit of YEHOVAH in you. Notice Colossians 1:27: "To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: WHICH IS CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY." And now Romans 8:11: "But if the spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead DWELLS IN YOU, He who raised Christ from the dead will ALSO give life to your mortal bodies THROUGH HIS SPIRIT WHICH DWELLS IN YOU." "Christ in you," or the spirit of YEHOVAH in you, is the ONLY hope of glory!
This, my friends, is WHY Satan -- the ULTIMATE ANTI-CHRIST -- HATES the work of the holy spirit. Satan will NEVER confess that the ONLY way to eternal life is through the ACTUAL presence of Yeshua the Messiah living IN the Christian.
Let's face it -- Satan HATES the Messiah!
He simply cannot bear the thought of the Messiah being in him -- changing him -- giving him the very nature of YEHOVAH! He loathes the nature of YEHOVAH God! This is the one doctrine he will NEVER accept -- he has even CORRUPTED it by promulgating HIS doctrines of the preexistence of the Messiah and of the TRINITY!
Because of the statements of the apostle John his lying minions are sometimes forced to pay lip service to the truth. But, you know, it is only lip service.
These men, these ministers, will NEVER surrender to the spirit of YEHOVAH. They will NEVER admit others DO NOT have to accept THEIR interpretation of scripture to be saved. They CANNOT -- WILL NOT -- relinquish their hold on the minds of men! They will NEVER give up their beloved "GOVERNMENT OF GOD," until the day the Messiah and YEHOVAH God return and take it from them by force, and give it to the Saints.
This is WHY (and let's understand it clearly) the first doctrine in the minds of those Satan has deceived is ALWAYS some form of the "Primacy of Peter." And this doctrine, after all the deception and gloss are stripped away, is nothing less than the PRIMACY OF SATAN the Devil!
This is the spirit of Anti-Christ, and his first doctrine will ALWAYS be that he must be in charge. He will never yield to the holy spirit of YEHOVAH! Mark this well!
The Counterfeit "Government of God"
Satan the Devil will ALWAYS profane the holy spirit. He will always use a FALSE Christian (those who have a "form of Godliness, but deny the power thereof" -- those who love and follow his lies) to judge, and condemn, and persecute the TRUE Christian.
This "form," or "image" of Godliness is none other than this amazingly clever counterfeit of the TRUE government of YEHOVAH! This "image" of YEHOVAH's government REJECTS the very power that makes YEHOVAH's true government work -- His holy spirit!
Herbert W. Armstrong taught for many, many years that government in the Church is the "image of the beast" -- and he was right!
Down through the ages Satan's greatest weapon against YEHOVAH's people has been the cunning and subtle substitution of this COUNTERFEIT "government of God" for the holy spirit! Through this deception he has wound up gaining full control of EVERY church that YEHOVAH has raised up.
Brilliant deception -- NOT from the outside, but from the INSIDE!
But brethren, this is the way Satan works -- this is who he is! His specialties are counterfeiting and deception. It is an "art form" that he has perfected and, believe me, he has no equal. The fact is -- he invented it!
When you sit down and think about it, how could there NOT be a counterfeit "government of God"? Let's be realistic -- Satan has counterfeited almost every other doctrine of YEHOVAH God Almighty, and this is no exception!
And, sadly, this perverted belief once again holds THE most honored position in the doctrinal frameworks of the Churches of God -- today! Flushed with conceit and arrogance it sits on top of all other doctrines in ruling the consciences of the people of YEHOVAH God!
Truly, history repeats itself. Satan has pulled it off again, right under the noses of YEHOVAH's people. He has transferred himself into an "ANGEL OF LIGHT," and now REIGNS SUPREME within the minds of those who were once YEHOVAH's people.
Not many years ago the Worldwide Church of God knew this so well, and taught it. But they have forgotten the truth, they have forgotten that they were once purged from their old sins. Just as Revelation 3:17 says, they have become deceived and blinded.
Unbelievable as it sounds, this vile doctrine has even become a source of pride and glory! They speak of little else. Oh, how thorough Satan has been!
In the Churches of God today, most people sit through services in a stupor. They leave their brains at the door, along with their umbrellas and wet overcoats! Five minutes after the sermon ends, they couldn't tell you a thing about what was said. Five minutes after services are over they rush for their cars and head home to watch TV and get immersed in this world's pleasures.
These poor, sad people are little more than drones. They are deceived. They have a veil over their eyes. They no longer care about the TRUTH! They are simply putting in their time, paying their penance. They hope YEHOVAH will take them into His Kingdom -- or take them to heaven -- or whatever it is they still believe in.
Those In the Worst Danger
There is, however, another class of people in the Churches of God today. Members who sit quietly by and listen, week after week and month after month, to that which they know in their hearts is simply NOT TRUE.
There are thousands of people such as these occupying a space in Church every week. They are bored and frustrated -- even ANGERED by the meaningless, empty sermons. Each Saturday they sit there, quietly praying for the longest two hours (or less now, I hear) of the week to end.
Yet, these people fear to stand up and speak the TRUTH. They may have family and friends in the Church, or business considerations -- and they don't want to rock the boat! They know full well what the response of the ministry will be if they dare to open their mouths and say what's on their mind.
These poor, foolish people. Don't they know what Isaiah said? "Who are you that you shall be AFRAID OF A MAN WHO WILL DIE, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? (Isaiah 51:12).
The sad reality is, these people love or fear men MORE than they do their Lord and Master Yeshua the Messiah. Don't they know what the Messiah said through Luke?
If anyone comes to me and does not hate [LOVE LESS] his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -- yes, EVEN HIS OWN LIFE -- he CANNOT be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me CANNOT be my disciple.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, "This fellow began to build and was not able to finish."
Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and con- sider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. IN THE SAME WAY, any of you who does not give up everything he has CANNOT be my disciple. Salt is good, but if it LOSES ITS SALTINESS, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the MANURE pile; it is THROWN OUT. He who has ears to hear, LET HIM HEAR. -- Luke 14:26-35.
These members thought they had "counted the cost," but they did not realize the cost could be so high. They are not deceived, as most in the Church are. They know better. But justify it however they will -- by their presence on the Sabbath (in most cases, the WRONG Sabbath) and by their tithes and offerings -- they, by doing so, support and uphold that which they know THE MESSIAH and the FATHER HATE!
They are walking on dangerous ground! With their lips they profess the Messiah, but by their very actions they are DENYING him before men. Sooner or later -- if they do not REPENT -- he will DENY them before his Father and the holy angels!
Brethren, please -- OPEN your eyes and look around you, at the great religious organizations of the world. Are not the pews overflowing with men and women who have COMPROMISED their conscience before Almighty God? Men and women who FEAR MEN -- who love their families, or their friends, or their jobs or the attractions of this world MORE than they love YEHOVAH?
The simple, underlying truth is that a man or woman of YEHOVAH God MUST STAND FOR THE TRUTH! The truth as the spirit of YEHOVAH has given them to see it -- NOT someone else's interpretation of truth. If they do not, then they are not "OF" YEHOVAH but "OF" someone else -- and, you know, "his servants you are, to whom you obey," and "you CANNOT serve two masters."
Will these poor, compromising people EVER be able to muster the courage of their convictions, and RETURN to serve the Living Messiah? Will they be able to get off the fence and GIVE themselves "body and soul" to the TRUTH of YEHOVAH God?
Sadly, the history of the Church of God has given us a clear answer: A few courageous ones will, but MOST will not! Even the majority of those who know truth will cling hopelessly to a sinking, dying church -- until their fast fleeing faith finally slips beneath the waves for the last time. Like those who put their faith in the Titanic -- the ship the builders said was unsinkable -- they will see the church, the government they put their faith in, sink beneath the waves, pulling those who are too close down with it!
These fence-sitters are in GRAVE DANGER, because YEHOVAH has no use whatsoever for a compromised conscience! The Bible says: "For a double minded man is unstable in all his ways." Read II Corinthians 3:17: "...Where the spirit of the Lord is, THERE IS LIBERTY." And, my friends, where there is liberty, a man NEED NOT FEAR TO SPEAK HIS MIND! Please understand this!
The workings of the doctrine of the "Primacy" are really quite simple. Its main, overriding purpose is to TAKE YOUR EYES off THE MESSIAH and YEHOVAH God, and place them on a man, or an organization. Then, ever so slowly and almost unnoticeable at first, you will begin to TRANSFER your faith in YEHOVAH to a mortal man, or to a church. Once this happens your faith no longer has any power! You will no longer be healed and your prayers are no longer answered! Because, you see, you CANNOT disobey the spirit of YEHOVAH that is in your mind, and obey a man instead, and STILL expect YEHOVAH to answer your prayers. It just doesn't work that way!
Your faith is now in men, or a church -- and these things HAVE NO POWER! They cannot offer you salvation! They cannot help you -- and often, they wouldn't even if they could. Only YEHOVAH GOD can help you! These men do not love you -- only YEHOVAH God and YESHUA THE MESSIAH love you! But you have allowed fallible men, cut off from YEHOVAH, to turn you AWAY from YEHOVAH God the Father and Yeshua the Messiah through this thing they called the "Primacy of Peter."
Once the faith of the people is removed from YEHOVAH and the Messiah, the Church is all they have left. Then subtly and quietly -- one by one -- all the OLD PAGAN DOCTRINES begin to creep into the Church. If this happens slowly, over an extended period of time, the people will accept it without a murmur -- like the frog that is placed in gradually heated water.
This is the method -- the modus operandi, if you will -- that Satan has ALWAYS used to lead people away from YEHOVAH and His truth.
At this point it is probably too late. You have allowed yourself to be taken in by the master deceiver -- AGAIN! To be blunt, you have literally "sold your soul to the Devil" -- and you CANNOT return to YEHOVAH on your own. Satan simply WILL NOT let you go! Your only hope now is that the Messiah, who is filled with the love and mercy of his Father, will again open your mind to see the TRUTH. If he does this for you -- LISTEN TO HIM! Don't turn away -- it could well be your last chance in this life!
Come Out From Among Them
If you understand these things I have written, and have not yet completely surrendered your conscience toward YEHOVAH to this vile doctrine, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE -- NOW -- before it is too late! Don't wait one minute! As Matthew warns: "Let him who is on the house top not come down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes." IT IS THAT URGENT, IT IS THAT SERIOUS! History is very clear, and the scriptures agree; THE CHURCH IS DOOMED!!
It cannot return to YEHOVAH -- it cannot recover itself from the Satanic snare of the "Primacy of Peter." No church ever has -- of that history is CRYSTAL CLEAR. Its only purpose now is TO TAKE YOU DOWN WITH IT. Listen to what I say!
The Worldwide Church of God (and others) will not relinquish their power over the conscience of the people. Understand this, they will NEVER voluntarily surrender this power to the spirit of YEHOVAH, and allow the Messiah to remove the faith of the people from the Church, and place it back on YEHOVAH. Men simply DO NOT surrender such power.
My friends, the lesson of history cannot be denied. How can I convince you that the Messiah will not work within these churches again? No more will he deliver them, and heal them, and pour YEHOVAH's spirit on them, and work to develop YEHOVAH's nature within them. He will no longer guide them into the better resurrection!
They have REJECTED YEHOVAH's spirit, and they have taken in the spirit of Anti-Christ in its place! Yeshua the Messiah -- the HEAD of the Church -- is no longer welcome here! He is on the OUTSIDE looking in! John writes: "Behold, I [Christ] stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20). The Churches of God have again become the property of the Anti-Christ -- and those who LOVE the Messiah must FLEE for their lives.
Brethren, listen to me -- heed the warning! If you consciously disobey what you know to be true -- to obey a church that teaches this doctrine -- you are NOT serving the Messiah! You are serving Satan the Devil -- plain and simple!
If there is any spark of the spirit of the Living God still within you, do NOT -- I repeat, DO NOT -- try to force that spirit to bow down before this debased IDOL OF IDOLS -- for it WILL NOT! It will leave you instead! Is that what you want?
The spirit of YEHOVAH will NEVER bow down before the FIRST doctrine of the king of Babylon, who is the Anti-Christ, who is Satan the Devil -- the great deceiver!
May the Eternal God YEHOVAH help you to recognize the danger and heed the warning!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way For the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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