This Sabbath, Edwin Pope will be speaking about “Spiritual Blindness.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream”.
The Mission of the End-Time Elijah
by Norbert Link
(Editor’s Note: This editorial is written in response to questions and comments we have received in recent weeks. We feel this information is vital and timely and are providing our answer in this week’s Editorial Section of the Update).
Sometimes, we are asked whether we believe that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was an apostle and the “Elijah to come,” who “restored all things.”
We clearly believe that Mr. Armstrong was an apostle. We also believe that Mr. Armstrong was the late leader of the Church of God, to which God gave the commission to fulfill the role of the end-time Elijah. We therefore continue in the preaching and teaching of the doctrines, which we all learned under Mr. Armstrong.
We differ, however, from those who state that nothing can be changed since the death of Mr. Armstrong in 1986, as God revealed all of His knowledge to Mr. Armstrong and the Church at that time, and everything had been restored by the time of Mr. Armstrong’s death.
Our Statement of Beliefs addresses this question in the following way:
“The major doctrines of the Church are those, which were taught by Herbert W. Armstrong, derived from the biblical teachings as followed by God’s faithful servants, and originally established by Jesus Christ through the founding of His Church in the time of His chosen early apostles. Since we are to increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are committed to review and alter any of our teachings, if and when proven to be wrong by the Bible.”
Our position is exactly the same, as taught by Mr. Armstrong. He admonished us to follow him, as he followed Jesus Christ. He said time and time again, “Don’t believe me. Believe the Bible.” He also admonished us to change, when proven wrong by the bible.
Please note the following excerpts from a member letter, written by Mr. Armstrong on August 24, 1982 (emphasis in the original and added):
“What about the prophet Elijah? The original Scriptures, prior to Christ’s first coming, close with these words: ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come [second coming] and smite the earth with a curse [total destruction]’ (Mal.4:5-6).
“Was John the Baptist the Elijah that was to come? When asked that question he said, ‘No.’ Jesus explained that John had come ‘in the power and spirit of Elijah’ – a different man, but carrying out the mission preparing for Jesus’ first coming…
“Now why, then, was Elijah YET, in the future, to come – just before the ‘day of the Lord?’ Verse 11 [of Matthew 17], Jesus said ‘to restore all things.’ John the Baptist DID NOT do that! Even Jesus did not come the first time to ‘restore all things.’ He came over 1,900 years ago to announce the KINGDOM OF GOD, which will restore all things. He came to set up his CHURCH – but not then to set up the KINGDOM. The Church was merely the embryo that shall BECOME the Kingdom of God WHEN RESURRECTED – when changed to immortal SPIRIT – at Christ’s second coming.
“Now notice where Jesus is NOW! He (God) ‘shall send Jesus Christ…’ back to earth, ‘whom the heaven must receive UNTIL THE TIMES OF RESTITUTION [RESTORATION] OF ALL THINGS…’ (Acts 3:20-21).
“Jesus shall come, SOON NOW, to RESTORE ALL THINGS. He did NOT restore all things when he first came. John the Baptist did not ‘restore all things.’ But the one who was to ‘restore all things’ just before the ‘day of the Lord’ and preparing the way for Christ’s second coming, was YET to come, in the future, as Jesus said.
“Now what are the ‘all things’ to be RESTORED? ‘Restitution’ means restore to a former state or condition…
“Jesus QUALIFIED to restore God’s government – to set up the KINGDOM OF GOD, ruling over the earth, administered by the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Jesus’ Gospel Message was the GOOD NEWS that he would (at his second coming) RESTORE the government of God through the KINGDOM OF GOD…
“Have WE, through this Work, RESTORED anything? Indeed we have! We have RESTORED the TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRST! Through us, JESUS CHRIST has already begun RESTORING the KNOWLEDGE of what had been taken away the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Through us the living Christ has been preparing for his SECOND COMING for the PURPOSE of RESTORING ALL THINGS!
“NONE OTHER has RESTORED the knowledge of the fact GOD’S GOVERNMENT was established on earth, and then DESTROYED and taken away by the Cherub Lucifer (Satan) and his demons….
“[Christ has been] OUR HIGH PRIEST, preparing us to RULE in his KINGDOM when he comes to RESTORE ALL THINGS!
“It is the living JESUS CHRIST who had been ACTUALLY DOING the Work. He has used YOU and me as his INSTRUMENTS!
“Do we realize HOW NEAR we now are to Christ’s coming and the final restoration of all things…?”
Mr. Armstrong emphasized time and time again that Christ gave His Church (of which Mr. Armstrong was the human leader until his death in 1986) the end-time Elijah commission of preparing the world for Christ’s Second Coming, and of turning the heart of the fathers to their children, and vice versa. This commission did not stop when Mr. Armstrong died. It has to continue, and it is the purpose of the Church of the Eternal God to do so.
We read in Isaiah 49:8 that it is Jesus Christ who will restore the earth. But the Church (as the Kingdom of God in embryo) has the commission to prepare for, and announce that restoration, and (as born-again members in the Kingdom or Family of God) to rule and serve with and under Christ to bring about the restoration of all things.
Please note, too, that Jesus said, in Matthew 17:11, that Elijah “is coming.” This correct translation indicates the continuing coming of Elijah – i.e., of the end-time Church, which is in the process of helping to restore all things. Mr. Armstrong certainly BEGAN this process. But, the task of the Church, under Christ, did not stop, when Mr. Armstrong died.
Please consider that even the original Elijah did not personally carry out and finish all of the aspects of the commission given to him by God. He was commissioned to anoint Jehu as king over Israel (1 Kings 19:16), but he did not do that. Rather, Elisha did carry out that aspect of Elijah’s commission, through one of the prophets, after Elijah had been taken away by God (2 Kings 9:1-10). We see, then, the continuing commission of the original Elijah, which did not stop, when God took him away. The same is true today.
This Week in the News
CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE – U.S.
Questions and much doubt remain concerning the outbreak of chronic wasting disease (CWD) among deer and elk in increasing areas of the western U.S. At an international conference held in Denver, Colorado, the critical issue of whether this disease would cross over into human populations or into cattle herds was discussed. The experts cautiously say “no,” but candidly admit that they simply don’t know.
CWD is compared to mad cow disease that recently took such a financial and human toll in Great Britain. Quoting from The Coloradoan, August 8, 2002, the stark seriousness of this disease comes to light: “Hunters in areas where wasting disease is found are advised to wear gloves while field dressing, to not consume any portion of the central nervous system or meat from a positive-testing animal and to not shoot any animal that appears sick or abnormal.” Many areas such as New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana depend heavily on the out-of-state hunters who pay high licensing fees, thus providing bountiful tourism money to these areas.
These kinds of problems were once only thought to occur in third world populations. As God withdraws His blessings to the descendants of Abraham, more–not less–bad news will erode the pride of our nations — nations who have forgotten their God, and who even now are NOT turning to Him in humility and repentance and in reliance on Him for deliverance.
UPDATE ON PINES FIRE – NEAR JULIAN, CALIFORNIA
As of August 6, the Pines Fire near Julian had burnt over 48,000 acres and destroyed 19 houses and 25 other buildings. By that time, it was 48% contained. High winds of 24 miles an hour and dry weather have made the fight against the fire very difficult. The costs of fighting the fire, excluding damage on the burned structures, have already exceeded 11.5 million dollars.
WESTERFIELD TRIAL – SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
As USA Today reported on August 8, the jurors began deliberations in the trial of David Westerfield, a man accused of kidnapping Danielle van Dam from her home and subsequently killing her. The dead body was later found along a rural road east of San Diego. Westerfield lived two houses away from Danielle. The entire trial, which had lasted for several weeks, had been broadcast on local television and attracted nationwide attention. If convicted, Westerfield could face the death penalty.
Defense attorney Steven Feldmann claimed that the prosecution had only presented circumstantial evidence and never proved that Westerfield was in the victim’s home. He stated that no fingerprints or other traces of Westerfield had been found in the van Dam home. He maintained, based on expert testimony, that Westerfield, due to the time that Danielle’s body had been exposed to the environment, could not have disposed of the dead body, as he was at that time under constant surveillance by police or the press. He finally suggested that the lifestyle of the girl’s parents, which included drug use and spouse swapping, might have exposed strangers who could have harmed her, pointing out that unidentified finger prints and blood found at the van Dam home suggested some other, unknown suspect.
Prosecutor Jeff Dusek argued that Danielle’s DNA, fiber, hair and fingerprints in Westerfield’s motor home and Danielle’s blood on Westerfield’s jacket prove that Westerfield had kidnapped the girl, killed it in the motor home and later disposed of the dead body.
The televised trial revealed the difficult task the jurors will have to face, in reaching a just decision. Many times, the jury was not allowed to hear evidence, due to sustained objections from the attorneys. Undoubtedly, emotions will have a part during deliberation, as they had been in the closing arguments of both attorneys, accusing each other of misrepresentations and worse.
Viewing the Westerfield case strictly on the basis of God’s laws, as revealed in the Old Testament, the accused could clearly not be convicted, as God had required at least the testimony of two witnesses confirming the commission of the crime (Numb. 35:30; Deut. 17:6). God had given those laws to prevent that an innocent person would be convicted and executed.
The laws of this world are not in harmony with God’s. That is one reason why we should not participate as jurors in jury trials. How thankful can we be, that God will send His Son Jesus Christ soon to establish true justice on this earth.
As NEWS-Networld reported on August 8, the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, relating to the conditions of Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territory, have failed. Jordan has issued an alarm of high alert to its citizens at the border between Jordan and Israel. Reputedly, Israel has also lounged another attack on Gaza.
WAR WITH IRAQ?
Der Spiegel reported on August 7 that both Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer have warned President Bush, not to attack Iraq. They have made it clear that Germany would not participate in military actions against Iraq. Mr. Schroeder also declared that an American attack on Iraq might destroy the International Alliance against Terrorism, and it would worsen the economic situation worldwide. Mr. Fischer warned that such a war would have dangerous consequences for Europe, and would constitute an incalculable risk.
Developments like these might very well lead to further alienation between the United States, Great Britain, and continental Europe, as predicted in the Bible.
Joerg Haider has threatened to resign from his party and create instead a European party, consisting of right-wingers. He stated, according to NEWS-Networld of August 8, that a “European right” would be better equipped to be victorious against the left, which “believes that they can prohibit us what to think.” Mr. Haider also defended his visits with Saddam Hussein of Iraq. He stated that former Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky had visited, too, radical leaders like Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi, and that present Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel has declared that he, too, was desirous of a better relationship with Iraq.
Editor’s Note: We are receiving interesting questions from new people in response to our advertisement campaigns. We recently answered one question regarding the biblical teaching that Lucifer and his angels occupied the earth prior to man. We are sharing our response with you:
When Adam and Eve were created and placed in the Garden of Eden, the serpent was already there, in order to deceive Eve. The serpent is later identified as Satan the devil (Rev. 12:9). But Satan was not always Satan.
We understand from the bible that Satan was originally the archangel and cherub Lucifer (which name means light-bringer), but that he became Satan when he sinned against God (Is. 14:12-15; Ez. 28:11-17). Lucifer wanted to “ascend to heaven” to dethrone God (Is. 14:13) – he wanted to “ascend above the heights of the clouds” (Is. 14:14). This shows, then, that he was here on this earth, as he wanted to ascend above the clouds to go to heaven. When he sinned, and was thrown back to this earth (Is. 14:12), he became Satan, which means enemy or adversary. Lucifer or Satan was already here on earth, when Adam and Eve were created. Since he appeared to them as the deceiver, he must have lived here on earth prior to man as Lucifer, when he was not yet the deceiver – before he began to “ascend to heaven.”
Actually, Lucifer had been trained in heaven, before the very throne of God, before he was sent to earth, with his angels under his command. We read in Ez. 28:14 that he was the anointed cherub who covers (With their wings, the cherubs covered the throne of God, when God appeared to Moses in the Tabernacle). We also read in Ez. 28:14 that he was on the holy mountain of God (in heaven, cp. Hebrews 12:22). But, when he sinned, by trying to ascend from this earth to heaven to replace God, he was cast out of the mountain of God (same verse) – Christ later said that He saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:18).
Lucifer was not alone, when he rebelled against God. His angels accompanied him and became demons in the process. A reference to that rebellion is made in Rev. 12:4 – one third of the angels followed Satan and became demons – which means that the other two third of the angels stayed loyal to God. Another attempt by Satan and his angels to fight against God – just prior to the return of Christ – is described in Rev. 12:7-9. This is not the same event as described in Rev. 12:4 – but it shows the pattern – in both cases, Satan and his angels are thrown back to earth.
Also, we read in Jude 6 about angels who did not keep their own domain (the earth), but left their own abode (to go to heaven to dethrone God). They are now reserved in everlasting chains under darkness – that is, they are the angels of darkness, still ruling on this earth, who are “chained” or held captive by their own spiritual perversion – as Satan, the prince of darkness, is still ruling on this earth (Rev. 2:13; compare Luke 4:6), holding the people of this world captive to do his will (2 Tim. 2:26).
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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