Hold Fast to "All things" (Herbert W Armstrong)

THE TWO WITNESSES

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zech43001.jpg

The Two Witnesses

By Daniel E. Cohran

 

Zec 4:1 Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep.

Zec 4:2 And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps.

Zec 4:3 "Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left."

Zec 4:4 So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?"

Zec 4:5 Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord."

Zec 4:6 So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the LORD of hosts.

Zec 4:7 'Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of "Grace, grace to it!"' "

Zec 4:8 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying:

Zec 4:9 "The hands of Zerubbabel Have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it. Then you will know That the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.

Zec 4:10 For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the LORD, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth."

Zec 4:11 Then I answered and said to him, "What are these two olive trees; at the right of the lampstand and at its left?"

Zec 4:12 And I further answered and said to him, "What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?"

Zec 4:13 Then he answered me and said, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord."

Zec 4:14 So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth."

 

In a 1976 coworker letter, which is posted on this website under the page entitled : "The 'Little Book' of Rev. 10",  Mr. Armstrong referring to the Two Witnesses, makes an interesting statement. For years I tried to "figure out" what this meant by looking for "names" or something to that effect. I was looking for the wrong things! Indeed Haggai and Zechariah DO identify the two witnesses. This article will explain this further. Here is the quote from Mr. Armstrong:

"Read right on. Chapter 11 is merely a chapter division written by MEN. But John's book of Revelation continues right on. The apostle, in his vision, is told now by this same angel to rise and MEASURE THE TEMPLE. But LEAVE OUT the court which is for the Gentiles, for they shall tread down the Holy City for 3 1/2 years.

So the TIME of our prophecy is at least 3 1/2 YEARS before Christ's coming--before THE GREAT TRIBULATION before the beginning of the DAY OF THE LORD and before the seventh angel blows the last trumpet!

Then it continues on into the message of the TWO WITNESSES--also referred to and perhaps identified in Haggai and Zechariah. And THEY SHALL PREACH A LAST WARNING TO THE WHOLE WORLD FOR 3 1/2 YEARS!" (end of excerpt)

It has been taught in the Church of God over the years, that the above account in Zechariah 4 is concerning the two witnesses of Revelation 11. There is MUCH to study and meditate on in these verses. One thing that struck me recently is the simple answer that the angel gave Zechariah concerning what or WHO these two "olive trees" are (vs’s 3 & 4). And actually the angel gives two answers in one. Beginning in verse 6 through 7, then also verses 9 through 10, then a final answer in verse 14. But the striking thing is in the angel’s ANSWER. And it all has to do with ZERUBBABEL! Who was Zerubbabel? Or perhaps more importantly, who was the END-TIME Zerubbabel?

This question was answered many times by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong himself. And he said that he was used by God to fulfill that role. This evidence can be found in many of his coworker letters of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

So what this angel is saying here in his answer in regard to what the two olive trees are, is something very much to do with this end time Zerubbabel! In other words, these two men (olive trees) will be upholding the teachings of this end time servant of God. So it’s what "the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel" is. And what was that word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel? It is what God taught us and revealed to us THROUGH Mr. Armstrong! It’s so simple!

This is HOW Haggai and Zechariah IDENTIFY the Two Witnesses, like Mr. Armstrong said!  It has to do with Zerubbabel and upholding what God did through him. This is how YOU will be able to identify these two men when they come on the scene. 

Yes, it’s ALL going to come down to a man, and NOT anything "about" the man, but rather WHAT the man taught! Just like the true Gospel of Christ is not "about" Christ, but rather WHAT He taught. So yes, what the two witnesses’ testimony will encompass, is concerning WHAT God revealed and taught through Mr. Armstrong.

There is a growing number of ministers today, in the various "churches of God", who are claiming to be one or both of the two witnesses. DON’T BE DECEIVED! This is all prophesied to happen, just as your Bible says. Many false prophets will arise. This is happening now, and it’s becoming more frequent.

I’ve said this many times. The two witnesses will be recognized by WHAT they say and do, NOT "who" they are, or think they are. And to set something straight, does that mean that I am claiming to be one of the two witnesses? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Those two men WILL be two whom GOD HIMSELF chooses, and at HIS appointed time. Will they be two "ministers" as some presume? Probably not, and the Bible NOWHERE indicates that they will be two ministers, and if anything it indicates they will NOT be ministers. A simple read of Jeremiah 23 or Ezekiel 34 and John 10 will prove that, as well as the book of Malachi. All pertaining to the end time we’re in right now.

In past history, in Biblical accounts, when God began to use a man as a "prophet", that man was NEVER a "minister" beforehand. The man was simply doing his work or making his living as a shepherd of sheep, or farmer, or fisherman. Then God told the man to GO FORTH with a message. At that point the person became a prophet of God. But today we see many independent church leaders and ministers claiming to be one of the two witnesses. Again, DON’T BE DECEIVED!

The two witnesses will be pointing the people of God from ALL the splinter groups, back to the FOUNDATION and "plumbline" (how God measures) that was built by Zerubabbel – Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. They will also be reminding them of their HISTORY, and reminding the people of national Israel of their history, and as well ALL the people of the world of their history, all the way back to the garden of Eden, just like Mr. Armstrong always brought us back to our origins. THEN the message will be to REPENT and turn back to what Christ told us all to "hold fast" to, which is the knowledge of the true way to the true God that He revealed to us through Mr. Armstrong. And there will be a warning to NOT partake of the mark of the beast which is now rising up and will soon be in full power.

Do any "ministers" of Jesus Christ today, have this message? There are NONE saying this! There may be a few who come close, but do they really point us back to ALL that Mr. Armstrong taught? No they do not. Furthermore, they will NOT elaborate on the many scriptures that show that God says all His shepherds have gone astray or off track, UNLESS they are directing it at someone else.

God puts MUCH emphasis on what Mr. Armstrong taught, and so will the two witnesses. Notice what it says in Haggai 2:23 which states:

"In that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel, says the Lord, and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts."

The word "SIGNET" in the above verse is number 2368 in Strong’s concordance, and from the root word number 2856 which means: to close up; to seal; to make an end; to mark; to seal up; to stop.

That’s very powerful when you consider the spiritual message here! The two witnesses will be under the authority of this signet of God as they are used by God to bring an END to the Laodicean era and effectively the "Church age", and to CLOSE UP another chapter in the history of God’s people, as they show God’s people and ALL who repent how to be MARKED for protection and SEALED UP in the place of safety. Then finally after the great tribulation and the Day of the Lord, Satan’s influence will be put to a STOP and a new age will dawn!

Some will undoubtedly ask or wonder, WHY so much emphasis on one man – Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong? The answer is simple if we have God’s Spirit and have not grieved it. It is because of what GOD DID THROUGH that man, that’s the key. And what God did through him is REVEAL vital life saving knowledge. The knowledge of how to worship the one and only true God. And the knowledge that there is only ONE WAY to that true God. And God did this work and revealed it through ONLY ONE MAN. So there is the reason the emphasis is put on that one man!

The sun is beginning to set on this seventh and final era of God’s Church. And God’s people are scattered and confused. God will soon appoint two loyal men to lead the way for His people and all who have a repentant attitude.

But many will not repent, and will be forced into the great tribulation. This is sad but it’s what the Bible teaches. Many of God’s own people who have been given precious truth will harden their hearts at the message God sends them. But God is merciful and even though many will die a horrible physical death, they will still be given a chance to repent and qualify for God’s Kingdom.

Jeremiah 15 is a synopsis of this end time Laodicean era as we go into the tribulation period. Notice what it says.

Jer 15:1 Then the LORD said to me, "Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth.

Above in verse one, God is showing that even if two of His most faithful servants pleaded for this people, it wouldn’t do any good! This corresponds with Matt. 25:5 which shows that ALL of us have been spewed into the Laodicean condition, and will be also spewed into the tribulation if we don’t repent (Rev. 3:16).

Jer 15:2 "And it shall be, if they say to you, 'Where should we go?' then you shall tell them, 'Thus says the LORD: "Such as are for death, to death; And such as are for the sword, to the sword; And such as are for the famine, to the famine; And such as are for the captivity, to the captivity."'

Many today are asking "Where should we go? Which church should we attend? But God already has a destination for us if we don’t repent!

Jer 15:3 "And I will appoint over them four forms of destruction," says the LORD: "the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy.

Jer 15:4 "I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.

Jer 15:5 "For who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem? Or who will bemoan you? Or who will turn aside to ask how you are doing?

Above God is showing the great tribulation, a time of trouble. Remember also that "Jerusalem" is a "type" of God’s Church.

Jer 15:6 You have forsaken Me," says the LORD, "You have gone backward. Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am weary of relenting!

God says we have forsaken Him. This is referring to God’s own people. You can’t forsake someone, unless you first had a relationship with Him. Only God's people have had a relationship with God.

Jer 15:7 And I will winnow them with a winnowing fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children; I will destroy My people, Since they do not return from their ways.

Jer 15:8 Their widows will be increased to Me more than the sand of the seas; I will bring against them, Against the mother of the young men, A plunderer at noonday; I will cause anguish and terror to fall on them suddenly.

Jer 15:9 "She languishes who has borne seven; She has breathed her last; Her sun has gone down While it was yet day; She has been ashamed and confounded. And the remnant of them I will deliver to the sword Before their enemies," says the LORD.

In verse 7 above, God says " I will destroy MY PEOPLE". This is His Church! Why? Because they refuse to repent, or return from their OWN ways, back to what He taught us under Mr. Armstrong!

Verse 9 above obviously is referring to the seventh or last era of the Church. We are almost at this very point now, the sun has set on this era! God’s people became ashamed to continue in His ways.

Jer 15:10 Woe is me, my mother, That you have borne me, A man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent for interest, Nor have men lent to me for interest. Every one of them curses me.

The Church is also called our "spiritual mother" (Gal. 4:26) 

Jer 15:11 The LORD said: "Surely it will be well with your remnant; Surely I will cause the enemy to intercede with you In the time of adversity and in the time of affliction.

Jer 15:12 Can anyone break iron, The northern iron and the bronze?

Above indicates the great tribulation! And the reference to the ten toes of the E.U. or beast power who now holds them in captivity (Dan. 2:39-45).

Jer 15:13 Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder without price, Because of all your sins, Throughout your territories.

Ah yes, it’s because of SIN!

Jer 15:14 And I will make you cross over with your enemies Into a land which you do not know; For a fire is kindled in My anger, Which shall burn upon you."

Above refers to the captivity upon God’s people.

Jer 15:15 O LORD, You know; Remember me and visit me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In Your enduring patience, do not take me away. Know that for Your sake I have suffered rebuke.

Above refers to someone who is repenting. Perhaps one of the two witnesses? Read on.

Jer 15:16 Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.

Jer 15:17 I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, Nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, For You have filled me with indignation.

The verses above refer to someone who eats the Word of God and does not sit in the assemblies of the Laodicean Churches that mock the teachings of His end time servant.

This person is filled with indignation because his brethren, God’s people refuse to repent.

Jer 15:18 Why is my pain perpetual And my wound incurable, Which refuses to be healed? Will You surely be to me like an unreliable stream, As waters that fail?

Jer 15:19 Therefore thus says the LORD: "If you return, Then I will bring you back; You shall stand before Me; If you take out the precious from the vile, You shall be as My mouth. Let them return to you, But you must not return to them.

Above, this person or group of people, refers to the two witnesses at the end of the Laodicean era. God says to these men or group of people: YOU SHALL STAND BEFORE ME! (Like Zech. 4:14?) They have RETURNED back to what God gave them in the beginning. They are separating the precious (truths and doctrines) from the vile (watered down Laodicean teachings and attitude). As a result, God says you will be AS MY MOUTH, or in other words SPOKESMAN. But you are not to return to them but let them return to YOU.

Jer 15:20 And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; And they will fight against you, But they shall not prevail against you; For I am with you to save you And deliver you," says the LORD.

Jer 15:21 "I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, And I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible."

Above is a clear indication of the two witnesses and those who are with them. Compare to Revelation 11 concerning the two witnesses! This leads right into a time of deliverance and redemption!

So when you go back and reread this 15th chapter of Jeremiah, we can begin to get more insight on where we are right now in prophecy, and what is in store for God’s people in the immediate future. May God help us all to heed His message when it comes!

 

"Stephen the Witness"

Most of us are aware of the story of the deacon Stephen in Acts chapters 6 and 7. Did we ever think about the fact that he was a WITNESS to his people? And as a result of a powerful witnessing sermon he gave, he was martyred shortly afterward? Have we ever realized that there is a parallel between what he did and what God’s final "two witnesses" will do? It is an astonishing parallel to say the least!

Deacons are indeed a part of Christ’s ministry. However, they are, as many today say: "the bottom of the totem pole" as far as having any ministerial authority in God’s Church. They are put in place to "serve" the brethren. This is primarily a "physical" service as is made clear by the scriptures and as Mr. Armstrong also explained it. But the Bible also indicates something else about at least one particular deacon, the deacon Stephen.

Notice Acts chapter 6 verse 8 which says:

"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people."

So here is a man, a simple and humble deacon, the "bottom of the totem pole" so to speak. Yet, God says he was FULL of FAITH and POWER, and did GREAT WONDERS and SIGNS among the people.

So here we are, in the end time, with all of God’s ministry gone astray. As the scriptures clearly show (Ezek. 34 and Jer. 23 for example) the ministry is NOT doing its job today as it should. So what "if" God were to use a deacon or deacon(s) to stand up for His Truth and SPEAK OUT for what God revealed to us in the end time through Mr. Armstrong? Wouldn’t this cause a bit of an "agitation" to the regular ministry? Some of course would just ignore it all together. Others would discount it by their "scholarly" knowledge. Others would attack it outright as "heresy" or something to that effect. Ministers are "very protective" of their territory. Even though it is for a variety of reasons.

Nevertheless if God were to use or begin to use humble men whether deacons or not, the regular ministry throughout the Laodicean churches would not only take notice, but they would NOT like it one bit! They may even rise up together to some degree AGAINST what God would be doing, which amounts to "correcting" them. God WILL INDEED at some point begin to use two men. They may very well NOT be deacons. Probably just two "regular guys" so to speak. But when GOD HIMSELF begins to use them, even BEFORE they are given the FULL POWER of their 3 1/2 year prophesied ministry, there will be NO STOPPING IT! And NOT because of any power or importance these men possess, because they will NOT possess it of their own. But God WILL GIVE it to them. So what ever "recognition" begins to come upon these two humble servants, it will be from God and ONLY God. BUT as that begins to happen, people will begin to take notice. To those with a humble spirit and who are truly holding fast, this will be exciting! But to the majority, including the ministry, it will NOT be welcomed! At least at first.

Continuing on, notice what it says in Acts 6 verse 9:

"Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen."

So these religious leaders (called Freedmen) rose up against Stephen. Isn’t it ironic that many Laodicean ministers today feel like they are now FREE from the (as they call it) "legalistic" ways that Mr. Armstrong taught?

Can we see the possibility and very likelihood of this scripture being fulfilled today? And WHY would they do this (rise up)? Read on and notice verse 10:

"And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke."

So these religious leaders (Laodicean ministers?) were not able to REFUTE what Stephen was saying. Why? Because he was filled with the Spirit of God! The spirit of wisdom and truth!

THINK for a moment about what God’s "two witnesses" will be doing. When God brings them to "recognition" then eventually to FULL POWER during their 3 1/2 year testimony. What will they be SAYING? Just using some spiritual common sense, they will begin JUST LIKE Mr. Armstrong used to, by giving a "HISTORY" of our people (national but ESPECIALLY spiritual Israel, or THE CHURCH). Then they will tell the people to REPENT! Mr. Armstrong always went back to ORIGINS, and gave us HISTORY, like the two trees in the garden of Eden, the history of God’s Church through the centuries, and the history of the Philadelphia era as it transitioned from Sardis. Stephen gave his people their history, then a stern correction! The two witnesses of God will most likely do the same. That is how history shows that God works in His servants.

But WHAT they say will NOT be well accepted or received by most people. And as a result, they will be killed, JUST AS the scripture says in Rev. 11.

Well now, let’s read on and see WHAT Stephen (a deacon) has to say, and see what the result of his powerful message is.

After many accusations were made by these various religious leaders in the end of Chapter 6, we come to Chapter 7 where Stephen is brought before the "council" (verse 15 of Chapter 6). Then beginning in Chapter 7 verse 2, Stephen begins a very detailed sermon, giving ALL the history of their people and their forefathers. You can read it on your own.

But THEN, in verses 51-53 of Chapter 7, Stephen after giving them this "history" lesson, tells them their PROBLEM. Notice what he says:

"You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it."

So here, after Stephen gives this powerful and historical lesson, he gives a STERN WARNING and CORRECTION to those he is speaking to. And HOW did they receive it? Read on in verse 54 which says:

"When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth."

As you read on in verses 57 and 58, Stephen is taken out and stoned, martyred for the Word of God!

Again, is there a parallel between what Stephen did and what the two witnesses will do? I certainly do not know for sure, but if we have any spiritual common sense at all and can discern what those two witnesses will have to say, then it makes sense.

Does that mean that the two witnesses will be two deacons? Not at all, nor am I saying that. It could and will be ANY two men whom God chooses to use.

It makes sense though that it will be two men who are striving to the best of their ability to HOLD FAST to what Christ gave us through His end-time apostle. That will be a central point and focus of their message. They will be witnessing for the Word of God, and witnessing for that end-time WITNESS or servant that God sent among us to preach the true gospel to the world as a WITNESS to all nations (Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong)! They will be two HUMBLE men, who have gotten their egos’ or "self" out of the way.

Daniel 12 has something interesting to say, possibly about these two men. In verse 5 it says:

"Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank."

Is this referring to the two witnesses, separated by a body of water? It could very well be. Notice what the next two verses go on to say, about the TIMING of this, which corresponds to the two witnesses’ prophesied ministry of 3 1/2 years. Verses 6-7 says:

"And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?" Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished."

Now let’s go back one Chapter, to Chapter 11. Notice something in verses 32 through 35. It says:

32. "Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.  33. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. 34. Now when they shall fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. 35.  And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end because it is still for an appointed time."

There are several things to notice in these verses. First in verse 32 it says that THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW THEIR GOD SHALL DO GREAT EXPLOITS. Is this talking about the "ministry"? Absolutely NOT! The word "minister" or "shepherd" is not even mentioned!

Notice verse 33. It simply says: "THOSE THAT UNDERSTAND" among the people, SHALL INSTRUCT many……" The word "minister" or "preacher" or "pastor’ or "shepherd" is simply not there!

But this is OBVIOUSLY talking about a group of people who are HOLDING FAST to something! Remember Christ’s last command to us before we went into the Laodicean condition! (Rev. 3:11) So these people who are holding fast, have an UNDERSTANDING. They UNDERSTAND something! And at some point they begin to INSTRUCT many. But those "many" will not heed at first and will fall (in the tribulation). But their hope is not lost. God will give them help through His two witnesses, so they will at least still gain or retain their eternal lives. Yes many will die as martyrs but they will at least be refined and qualify for the first resurrection (Verses 34-35 of Daniel 11).

Regardless of who these two men are, they will be humble, and will have LEARNED what self-righteousness is and the "Laodicean" condition or attitude will have been repented of. Will they be "perfect"? Of course not. Nobody is yet. But they will be recognized by WHAT they SAY, not "who they are". Their message is a TESTIMONY. And it will be very FAMILIAR to those who have not grieved God’s Spirit. Those who are striving the best they can to HOLD FAST to ALL that God revealed to us in the end time through Mr. Armstrong. When Christ empowers these two men, He (Christ) will be speaking through them. THEN we can fully understand John 10:27 which says:

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me."

May God help us all to fully recognize and HEAR that voice when it comes!

 

 

"Just a deacon…"

Do deacons have any "authority" or "power" today in the scattered Church of God? In other words, what can they do or not do? They are not "ministers" in the sense of what is regarded as "typical" ministerial duties. Scripture shows they were put into the Church government PRIMARILY for the purpose of taking care of the "physical" functions of the Church. But scripture ALSO shows something else that deacons can do and have done.

Today in this Laodicean era, God’s people are scattered and confused. The regular "ministry" has led God’s people astray and further into apostacy. The Word of God is clear on this: (Ezek. 34 and Jer. 23 for example). But we ALL have a responsibility to STAND UP for God’s Truth, whether deacons or lay members. Most deacons will (or should) tell you that they don't look at themselves as part of the ministry, even though they are often called "the bottom of the totem pole" of the ministry. Indeed they are. But they are not "shepherds" charged with the responsibility of "the flock" as the Bible says. Those "ordained ministers" are charged with the responsibility of caring for and feeding (spiritually) the people of God. But scripture (and recent Church history) shows they have ALL FAILED!

So today we have people, a few here and a few there, trying their best to "hold fast" to what God gave us through His end time Elijah and apostle. But there is NO shepherd or minister to guide us. We do have Jesus Christ though, who is our true High Priest. And we have the teachings of His end time apostle preserved for us. We also have a few deacons. So what can these deacons do, and what can we ALL as scattered members do?

We KNOW that this is the time of "final exams" that Mr. Armstrong spoke of, and the Bible certainly indicates that through many scriptures. So we are living in "dark and cloudy" times spiritually speaking for God’s Church.

So do we few deacons have a responsibility to at least "speak up" and stand up for God’s truth? It is my belief that indeed we do, and the Bible even clearly indicates this.

Let me give you an example of what Mr. Armstrong said about a "deacon" in his autobiography. Then we will look at the scriptures and see even more.

In vol. 1 of Mr. Armstrong’s autobiography, on pages 416-417, under the subtitle: "WHO Should Baptize?", Mr. Armstrong writes:

WHO Should Baptize?

The subject of water baptism had been the very first I had
studied in the Bible, after my original surrender to Christ. Now
I had four new converts to be baptized. One of those was my own
brother, Dwight Armstrong.
But WHO was to baptize them? I was not an ordained minister.
A young minister of the Church of God who had been sent out
from Stanberry, Missouri, headquarters, had been in an automobile
accident in Harrisburg. He was confined to bed with a broken leg
at the time. I consulted him. It was a problem neither of us had
confronted before.
We looked at Matthew 28:19-20.
"Go ye," said Jesus in His Great Commission, "therefore, and
teach all nations, baptizing them ... " It appeared that whoever
taught
those who repented and accepted Christ was to do the
baptizing. Nothing was said about being ordained.
We examined Acts 2:37-41 -- the initial New Testament
experience on the day of Pentecost. Three thousand were baptized.
It was evident that the twelve disciples of Jesus could hardly
have baptized this vast number.
In Acts 8, Philip, a deacon, and apparently not yet at that
time an ordained evangelist, baptized those to whom he preached
at Samaria, and later the Ethiopian eunuch.
We decided that I had the authority of God to baptize those
converted during my first public preaching.
I baptized them.
This brought stern criticism from "authorities" higher up in
the church. There was criticism because the Conference paid
expenses when I was not even a member. In fact, from this time I
was to meet continued criticism, opposition, persecution, and
political maneuvering by ministers. But the lay members looked
more and more to me for leadership.

 

So here, Mr. Armstrong himself says that in order to baptize, one does not need to be an "ordained minister", and he gave the example of Philip the DEACON. Now speaking of Philip the deacon, below is posted Acts 8 in its entirety. Please read it closely. As is similar with the case of Stephen (also a DEACON) mentioned in Acts 6, God did great signs and wonders and preaching through Philip. Apparently God spoke directly with him through an angel! And for God to "transport" Philip around from place to place means that God was using him in a powerful way.

 

Acts Chapter 8 (NKJV)

Acts 8:1 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Acts 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

Acts 8:3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

Acts 8:4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.

Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.

Acts 8:6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Acts 8:7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.

Acts 8:8 And there was great joy in that city.

Acts 8:9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great,

Acts 8:10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the great power of God."

Acts 8:11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

Acts 8:13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,

Acts 8:15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 8:17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,

Acts 8:19 saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit."

Acts 8:20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!

Acts 8:21 "You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.

Acts 8:22 "Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.

Acts 8:23 "For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."

Acts 8:24 Then Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me."

Acts 8:25 So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

Acts 8:26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is desert.

Acts 8:27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship,

Acts 8:28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.

Acts 8:29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot."

Acts 8:30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?"

Acts 8:31 And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

Acts 8:32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth.

Acts 8:33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth."

Acts 8:34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, "I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?"

Acts 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

Acts 8:36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"

Acts 8:37 Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."

Acts 8:38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

Acts 8:39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.

So here we see a powerful example of God working through a deacon, who later became an evangelist. Also something else to mention along these lines which does not necessarily apply to deacons, but to ANY who have God’s truth and Spirit, has to do with healing and the "laying on of hands". Notice what Mr. Armstrong says on pages 336-337 of this same Vol. 1 of his autobiography. Beginning on the bottom of page 336, the last paragraph he writes:

"I was not an ordained minister, so I did not anoint with
oil
. I had never yet in my life prayed aloud before others. I
explained this to them, and said I would simply lay hands on the
man and pray
silently, as I did not want any self-consciousness
of praying aloud for the first time to interfere with real
earnestness and faith. I did have absolute faith he would be
healed of the blood poisoning.
He was. "

So here we can see an example of how we can pray for others to be healed. We indeed CAN lay hands on them, just not anoint with oil. This same exact quote from Mr. Armstrong can also be found in Mystery of the Ages, beginning in the last paragraph of page 67 of the hardback edition.

In Acts chapter 6, Stephen a deacon, gives one of the most powerful sermons in the Bible. In Chapter 7 he is addressing the "religious leaders" who conspired against him an brought him to this tribunal or council. He then concludes his message with a VERY STRONG WARNING AND CORRECTION to those leaders and all who are in his midst. Of course we know what the result was. He was murdered for his testimony.

So we can see through these scriptures that deacons can indeed preach, baptize and heal the sick. The scripture also shows that they did "miracles’. So does that mean that deacons can still do these things today? The Bible nowhere indicates otherwise. It’s obvious that the regular ministry has failed in their job of feeding and protecting God’s flock.

On page 262 of Mystery of the Ages, Mr. Armstrong says in the second paragraph the following statement:

"It is the duty of Christ’s TRUE ministers (and how scarce today) to PROTECT the begotten but yet unborn saints from false doctrines, from false ministers."

The entire ministry has obviously FAILED to do this. Do we then as deacons AND lay members, have at the very least a responsibility to "speak out" or to take a STAND for the truth of God? Stephen did. Philip did. Are those examples for us today?

Notice something the apostle Paul said to the brethren at the Church at Corinth. In chapter 15 of I Corinthians. He says something which I believe applies today as well as it did in his time. Because after all, yes we were taught by Paul through the scriptures, but ALSO through another apostle, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. So I think this applies to what we learned through Mr. Armstrong as well.

Paul says in I Cor. 15:1-2 :

"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain."

Notice the next chapter now. I Cor. 16:13 which says:

"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong."

Powerful words for us today! Undoubtedly we will soon face persecution simply because we are trying to hold fast to what God gave us through Mr. Armstrong. Many ministers will slander us and accuse us. But we must not waiver in the FAITH of Jesus Christ.

Paul warns us again in Gal. 5:1. He says:

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."

The ministry today has put a "yoke of bondage" on God’s people and they don’t even realize it!

Finally in II Thessalonians chapter 2 it is speaking of the great "falling away" from the truth that was prophesied to happen in this Laodicean era.

Then Paul concludes this chapter with a wonderful admonition which will protect us from this falling away. He says in verses 15-17:

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work."

So what then should we do? Do we hide and wait? Or, do we do what we can to defend the faith? Do we "deacons" have the authority to become BOLD? Yes indeed we do, and our brethren as well.

Notice Phillipians 1:14 which says:

"..and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."

And to deacons, listen to what God’s Word says. In I Timothy 3:13 it says:

"For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."

So yes we have the "AUTHORITY" to speak and to preach, and to baptize and to correct and to do miracles even, and to do it all BOLDLY in the name of the Lord! But that therein is the key. It must be done IN THE FAITH of Jesus Christ, His beliefs, what HE taught us through HIS WORD and through His apostles. The ministry has departed from this way today. This is obvious.

So if God’s Spirit flows through us and is IN us, what do we do? We take a STAND for God’s Truth! It is a stand against spiritual darkness and wickedness. It is indeed a war. But God says He will deliver us if we remain steadfast and faithful.

So to answer the question at the beginning of this section: "Do deacons have any authority or power?". Well yes they do, but we all do. Any "power" that a deacon or anyone else for that matter may have, comes strictly and directly through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Too many men today let the idea of "power" go to their heads. As a result that power is misused or abused. No wonder so many today don’t want to hear about "authority" or "government" within God’s Church! But the kind of power that Stephen and Philip had, ANY of us can have if we yield ourselves to God’s Spirit. And that power was simply used to do God’s work, and proclaim His Word and His truth.

If we remain humble and stay in the right attitude, in due time God will gather us together. Yes we will face some persecution in the meantime, perhaps more and more. But we have NOTHING to fear! I will close with this scripture in Hebrews 13, verse 6, which says:

"So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

HOLD FAST BRETHREN!

 

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