Editorial - What Lies Ahead?

 With the 24th anniversary of the Global/Living Church of God now behind us, it is important to think about where we have come from, where we are, and where we are going. All of you know that—with my advancing age—I have recently brought in Mr. Gerald Weston to replace me as leader of the Work if I am incapacitated or die. I hope all of you will pray for him and be absolutely loyal to him as long as he continues in the way of God—which I have every confidence he will. For in our previous association more than two decades ago, the man brought in to lead that organization had virtually no experience in high-level leadership and was not tried and tested in the same way Mr. Weston has been.

 As I have explained in previous letters and articles, I have known Mr. Weston since he sat in my Freshman Bible Class, 51 years ago. He has been very solid and very dedicated throughout those 51 years. I have described those “fruits” before. But I want all of you brethren to realize that Satan will try to “divide and conquer” in this Work, as he always does when attacking God’s people and God’s Church.

a dirt road disappearing into the horizon

The Bible is very clear in warning us about Satan’s tactics: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9). So every one of us should be crying out to God that He will keep this Church unified and will continue to use us and empower us more than ever to finish the Work! For we have been blessed in being able to do far more of the Work than any other group—as most of you know. We must not give up or allow ourselves to be turned aside from this!

Also, we should continually look to the fact that Jesus Christ is alive. He is the living, active Head of His Church. For Almighty God describes the fact that “He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

We should continually pray to God that He and Jesus Christ—our living Head—would rebuke Satan, protect His Church and help us strive in every way we can to submit to one another and to honor God by following the Apostle Paul’s command to the Corinthians: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

Brethren, right now we do have a very dedicated and unified ministry and church—as you all know. But certainly, Satan is “lurking” out there and trying to find an “opening” to cause division in the very Church which is doing God’s Work! So we do need to be “on guard” more than ever in the years to come. All of us realize that Satan is busy dividing even the carnal citizens of our nations right now—in the nations of Israel, as well as the rest of the world. Since Mr. Donald Trump’s selection as the next President, there is more division in the United States than there has been in many, many decades. Satan is causing division in our nation. He is causing division in Britain over the “Brexit” situation. He is causing division in the European Union, with many nations thinking about “opting out,” as Britain has done. All over the world, Satan is causing division. So we must not think that he is going to leave alone the very Church of God. Let us do our best to resist this. Let us be loyal to the leadership that Christ has put in place as long as that leadership continues to teach the basic Truth and do the Work.

Remember, brethren, I have always said that there is no “perfect” church. But when you think about what to do—as most of you have—you must always keep in mind the three basics: (1) Which church is preaching more fully the complete Truth of God? (2) Which church is actually doing the Work of God more completely? (3) Which church is teaching and practicing the genuine Government of God in the church more fully than others?

Follow Clear Biblical Examples

As I have stated, there is no church that is doing all of these things perfectly. However, when you consider those three basics, it should be obvious that there is one Church which is doing them more fully than any other on earth. We in the Living Church of God are that group. This does not make us “better,” but we have had our minds opened to realize that we should follow the basic pattern Christ showed through His servant Herbert W. Armstrong for all those years, by carrying on the Work and seeking to be those instruments that Christ can use to finish the Work and “prepare a people” for God.

Those who refuse to follow the biblical form of Church Government are, frankly, very confused. For how can you practice a different kind of government throughout the entire church age and then expect to be a leader in administering the real government of God in the near future in God’s Kingdom?

It is important to review the pattern Christ gave for His Government from time to time. Remember, brethren, how Christ guided His servant Moses to “select” or choose able men to lead His work at that time: “Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you” (Exodus 18:21-22).

Later, God guided a faithful king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, to set or choose judges or leaders throughout Judah: “Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, ‘Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes’” (2 Chronicles 19:5-7).

Brethren, how much more would Christ guide His New Testament leaders—filled with God’s Spirit—than He did those Old Testament judges who were simply ruling over physical Israel? For Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). So we should have great confidence that the living Christ is alive and that He will guide those who are set in office—those doing His Work and following His true pattern of government.

We all should remember the example of how God requires us to have deep respect for the leadership and judgment of those He sets in authority. For even when the king of Israel himself rebelled against the instruction of God’s spiritual leader, Samuel, Almighty God dealt with him fearfully! After Saul refused to do exactly what he was instructed, God inspired Samuel to tell Saul: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

The Example of Christ and His Apostles

Jesus Christ Himself set the example by choosing or appointing the twelve Apostles: “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13). Later, the living Jesus Christ appointed “seventy others” to carry out responsibilities in the Work of God: “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’” (Luke 10:1-2). Notice that the New King James Version literally uses the word “appointed” regarding Christ’s selection of the seventy others. For this was the “pattern” revealed by God in all the selection of leaders in His Work!

Still later, the Apostle Paul was led by the living Christ to follow the same pattern in that he “appointed” elders in every church in Asia Minor: “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).

Nearer the end of the apostolic period, God inspired the Apostle Paul to command Titus to follow the same pattern and to “appoint” elders in the Church of God. He instructed Titus: “Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; to Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you” (Titus 1:1-5).

So we have an unbroken succession of examples and even commands by God’s true servants to “appoint” those in authority within the Government of God! Why is it so difficult for some to understand? Why are they unwilling to follow the clear instruction of their Creator in this vital matter which concerns our preparation for the very job we will soon be doing as “kings and priests” in the Government of Christ in Tomorrow’s World?

Brethren, it all gets back to a matter of faith! For we should absolutely believe that Christ is, in fact, the living Head of the Church of God. He will guide those whom He is using to do His Work and teach His Truth. He is responsible to be sure that they are the right ones for that time. He is ultimately responsible for guiding these situations! So let us in this Work move forward in absolute faith in Christ’s leadership and sincerely respond to those whom He puts in office in His Church and in His Work today!

After much prayer, meditation and counsel, I have been led to appoint Mr. Gerald Weston as the future leader of this present Work, which Christ used me to raise up some 24 years ago. I hope all of you can understand that and have genuine faith that God will guide Mr. Weston and guide His Church and Work through him as a human leader, and I hope you will give him every bit of your help, cooperation and loyalty in the years ahead. Let us all actually do this—believing in faith that Christ is in charge of His Church and guiding these things and that we will be rewarded forever in God’s coming Government if we learn to respond to His leadership and His Church in this life.

Brethren, as I approach the end of my life, I want to do all I can to prepare for the Living Church of God to continue in good shape for many, many more years. So I will appreciate all of you trying to “walk with God,” as I have preached for so long in so many sermons. If we do that, I am sure that God will guide and bless this Work and will help us to have a far greater impact in the years yet ahead. We may have several more years to continue the Work. So we must never let down, never turn aside, never give up! Let us pray fervently for this and for God’s Kingdom to come soon.

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