Dear Brethren and Friends, At least a few thousand of you older brethren who are reading this letter have had to be patient through the trials and tests of life, of human issues in the Church, and with the realization that Christ has not come back as quickly as we had hoped. But please realize, Almighty God has never given us an exact date as to when Christ will return to this earth. Rather, His inspired Word tells us: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
Brethren, this same passage of scripture also tells us to “watch” for certain events to occur: “So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (vv. 33–34). Many of these prophesied events have not yet happened. Certainly, it appears that they may be coming very close. But the reality is that they have not yet happened. Mr. Herbert Armstrong, Ted, Herman Hoeh and I all “hoped” that Christ would come very soon. We prayed. We worked hard to do the Work. But our Father in heaven—in His infinite wisdom and mercy—has allowed human beings on this earth to have several more decades of time than we expected to do their own thing, and write the lessons of human suffering. But finally, He will intervene when humanity truly is on the verge of cosmocide and many thinking people finally realize that “all is lost” without God’s intervention in human affairs.
That time has not yet come!
However, we older members in God’s Church should not give up at the last minute. And we should encourage our young people to see the “Big Picture.” After all, we have been able to go ahead with our lives for these decades. We have had the opportunity to have families and perhaps even grandchildren, to experience wonderful trips and opportunities in life and to learn lessons that we would not have learned if Christ had come 30 or 40 years ago. So we must always try to see and understand the “mind of God” as these things are worked out. In His inspired Scripture—which reveals God’s mind—He tells us: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Almighty God is not “late” in sending His Son back to this earth! Rather, He is letting things play out so the full lessons of human experience can be written—and later learned—by hundreds of millions of human beings.
So, I hope all of us in God’s Church will learn the lessons God intends from this situation: “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7–8). In the following verses of James, we are told to remember the prophets of God who set “an example of suffering and patience” (v. 10). We are told to learn the “perseverance of Job” (v. 11) so that we can understand that the end intended by God is going to work out in a very compassionate and merciful way.
For the sake of our own eternal life, we must heed the lessons of the “ten virgins,” who begin to slumber and sleep before Christ came. For these professing Christians were not zealously involved in serving others, “in doing the Work” and in overcoming their sins. They were not earnestly studying, praying, meditating and fasting to draw close to their Creator and be filled with His Spirit. Therefore, when Christ came—pictured by this parable—they did not have God’s Spirit and were shut out of the wedding, picturing the very Kingdom of God! Jesus then concluded: “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you’” (Matthew 25:11–12).
And we must be extremely careful not to imitate the “wicked servant” described by Jesus in His parable in Luke 12, who said: “‘My master is delaying his coming’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk” (Luke 12:45). If we, dear brethren, “let down” and begin to have that attitude, Jesus made it very plain that He may come even more quickly than we imagine, and deal with one who is like that and “cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (v. 46).
We, therefore, need to go all out in seeking God and using the time and talents we have right now to assure our place in God’s coming Kingdom and the opportunity we have to truly serve millions as kings and priests during Christ’s reign. For Jesus said: “But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (v. 48).
Because I have been one of the pioneer students of Ambassador College and of the ministry of this Work under Herbert W. Armstrong, I have been able to know and converse for many hours with nearly all of the leading men who studied prophecy in detail in the early years. I have also read some articles and books on prophecy and biblical chronology by outsiders. Every one of the leading men that I talked to in this Work—including Dr. Herman Hoeh, Dr. Ernest Martin, Dr. Charles Dorothy, Dr. Robert Kuhn and others—have acknowledged that they came to realize during their study of biblical chronology that we could “easily” be 20 or 30 years off in either direction! Therefore, it should be easy to realize that Christ may not come until about 2030ad!
That time has not yet come!
Do I, personally, think it will be that long? No! But I have “hoped” that it would be sooner for many decades. So I want you to realize—as you plan your life, and as you young people plan your lives—that there may be enough time for you to have a career, and to marry, have children and accomplish a number of wonderful things before our Savior returns as King of kings.
Yet, even though we need to realize that we “must not set dates,” we must also absolutely avoid thinking that “my Lord delays His coming!” Rather, we must “watch” the major signs Jesus Christ gave to “watch”—the wars and rumors of wars, the false prophets rising up, the disease epidemics, famines and mighty earthquakes. For Jesus said, “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:25–28). As we all know, we are to “watch” for the coming Beast Power to rise in Europe. We must watch for the coming “King of the South” to appear. We must especially watch—near the end—for the “abomination of desolation” to be seen standing in the Holy Place (Matthew 24:15).
As all these events take place—including the “fourteen signs” I have listed in my booklet—then you may be “sure” that Christ’s coming is “even at the doors”! Until then, each of us must fervently concentrate on reflecting Jesus Christ in everything we think, say and do. For Almighty God is not nearly as concerned with our “figuring out” the exact date of Christ’s coming as He is in whether our whole beings are involved in giving our lives to Him, surrendering completely to Him so that Christ may live His life within us through the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20). That is God’s primary concern. Frankly, nearly every single one of the men I have known who have gotten too involved with dates and chronology have had severe problems in their Christian lives—and many of them have completely fallen away from the Truth!
So let us truly “walk with God” with all our hearts, minds and souls. Let us be grateful for each day we have to serve God and our fellow man. As the Apostle Paul, I would urge all of you in this fashion: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing” (Philippians 2:12–14).
We must never be involved in “murmuring” and “disputing” and complaining about the fact that Almighty God is giving human beings more time to write the lessons of human suffering and for His own children to “work out” our own salvation before Christ returns. Rather, we must be glad that God has called us now: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4–7). As we “walk” with God and experience the joy of His salvation in knowing Him, knowing our purpose, and deeply knowing and experiencing the life of Jesus Christ within us, we will know that we have much need to be grateful, to be joyful, and to worship our Creator.
Those of us who have been in God’s Church for a long time need to be very grateful for all the time we have been given to learn the lessons of life and to serve more during these years God has granted. And we need to zealously use the talents our Father has given us to serve our Creator, to serve our fellow man and to do His Work over the next several years—however long it is until Christ’s feet are again upon this earth!