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OF GOD'S TRUE CHURCH
Where is the one and only true Church today-the Church founded by Jesus Christ in A.D. 31?
Seven major eye-opening proofs identify it unmistakably.
By Herbert W. Armstrong
THE TRUE GOSPEL
Could anything sound more unbelievable? To say the true gospel of Jesus Christ was not proclaimed to the world during 19 whole centuries-from the middle of the first century until the middle of the twentieth-may sound preposterous!
Incredible! But TRUE!
The world has heard much preaching about Jesus Christ as a person. That is good-but the gospel of Christ is the MESSAGE Christ proclaimed and taught.
Jesus Himself said that many would come in His name-claiming to represent Him-saying that He, Jesus, is the Christ-and deceiving the MANY (Matt. 24:4-5).
But the gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news-the message-He proclaimed and taught.
The word gospel means "GOOD NEWS." Jesus brought the GOOD NEWS of the world's ONLY and SURE HOPE! And I do not mean an ethereal, spiritualized unreal hope. He brought the good news of a coming entirely new and real world. A time when the earth will be filled with PEACE, HAPPINESS, JOY and ETERNAL SALVATION!
God's one original true Church is virtually alone in proclaiming that GOOD NEWS today!
What was that gospel message? One of the proofs that identifies God's one true Church in our time is the fact that, as Jesus foretold, His Church would at this crisis end time be proclaiming that same gospel at last!
But first, notice what was written in the book of Galatians around A.D. 53 to 58 to the churches in Galatia:
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ" (Gal. 1:6-7).
Again, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness SUPPRESS THE TRUTH" (Rom. 1:18, RSV).
No wonder we read of "the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world" (Rev. 12:9).
The prophet Malachi foretold the proclamation of the gospel, saying, ".. . the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant. .." (Mal. 3:1).
Jesus Christ was that Messenger of the New Covenant. Actually Malachi here is referring to the TWO appearances of Christ on earth-but verses 2 to 6 definitely refer to His yet-future SECOND coming.
Yet, he did refer also (in verse 1) to Christ's first coming, because this prophecy is quoted in Mark 1:1-2: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."
Actually, this latter statement applies to both Jesus' appearing more than 1,900 years ago and to preparing the way before His second coming in power and glory as WORLD RULER. The latter is now being prepared from within the one true Church of God! That is another evidence of its identity!
However, in Mark 1, verses 14-15, the account continues describing John the Baptist preparing the way before His first appearing then: "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the KINGDOM OF GOD is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."
The gospel Jesus brought from God, which Christ proclaimed and taught His apostles, was the prophetic message of the coming KINGDOM OF GOD.
Jesus went all over the Holy Land teaching this same gospel. "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom . . ." (Matt. 4:23).
He taught in parables about the KINGDOM OF GOD. Jesus said, "... Unto what is the KINGDOM OF GOD like? ... It is like a grain of mustard seed ..." (Luke 13:18-19). Again, the KINGDOM OF GOD "... is like leaven . .." (Luke 13:21).
Again: "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the KINGDOM OF GOD, and you yourselves thrust out" (Luke 13:28).
Jesus sent His twelve disciples out to proclaim the KINGDOM: "And he sent them to preach the KINGDOM OF GOD, and to heal the sick" (Luke 9:2).
He sent another seventy disciples out on a special mission: ". . . the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two ... into every city and place, whither he himself would come... ." And He said to them, ". . . heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you" (Luke 10:1,9).
After His resurrection: ". . . unto the apostles whom he had chosen ... being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to [concerning] the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:2-3).
The apostles proclaimed the gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD. Philip, who became an evangelist, proclaimed it: "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God .. ." (Acts 8:12).
The apostle Paul proclaimed the Kingdom of God to the Gentiles: "And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the KINGDOM OF GOD, shall see my face no more" (Acts 20:25).
Again, Paul "expounded and testified the KINGDOM OF GOD" (Acts 28:23) and "preach(ed) the KINGDOM OF GOD . . ." (verse 31).
To the Corinthian church Paul wrote: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the KINGDOM OF GOD .. ." (I Cor. 15:50).
To the Galatians Paul wrote: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8). And in verse 9 it was made a DOUBLE curse to preach any other gospel!
Yet THAT GOSPEL was SUPPRESSED about or just past the middle of the first century and was not again proclaimed to the world until 1953-19 centuries later-and THEN by the present living generation of that same ONE and ONLY true original Church of God, established by Jesus Christ in A.D. 31!
The proclaiming of that only true gospel message taught by Jesus identifies the one and only true Church of God TODAY!
IF "traditional Christianity" has NOT proclaimed that gospel-when the Bible is replete with passages showing that was the gospel Jesus preached-HOW DO THEY EXPLAIN IGNORING IT? The Roman Catholic Church simply claims that their church is the Kingdom of God. It is not generally realized, but the pope's title, "Vicar of Christ," means, literally, "in place of Christ." Not one merely serving Christ, but one who has REPLACED Christ! The Kingdom of God was already here! The papacy had come IN PLACE OF Christ, to rule the nations for 1,000 years. And the papacy did rule the "Holy Roman Empire" of Europe 1,260 years- A.D. 554 to 1814! But the popes and all Catholics are flesh and blood, and flesh and blood cannot inherit or enter into the Kingdom of God!
Many Protestant churches have simply designated the Kingdom of God as "the church" in general, not necessarily their particular denomination.
Others have spoken of the Kingdom of God as an ethereal something (or nothing) "set up in men's hearts."
But none of those ideas square with the teaching of Christ and of Paul about what the Kingdom of God is.
The prophet Daniel, who lived 600 years before Christ, knew that the Kingdom of God was a real kingdom-a government ruling over literal PEOPLE on the earth.
Jesus Christ brought additional knowledge about it, which the prophet Daniel might not have known. Still, Daniel knew there was going to be a real, literal Kingdom of God on the earth.
Daniel was one of four extraordinary and brilliant Jewish lads in the Judean captivity. These four men were stationed in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar of the Chaldean Empire, in training for special responsibilities in the Babylonian government.
Daniel was a prophet who had been given special understanding in visions and dreams (Dan. 1:17). Nebuchadnezzar was the first real world ruler. He had conquered a vast empire, including the nation Judah. This king had a dream so impressive it troubled him-moved him to tremendous concern. He demanded that his magicians, astrologers and sorcerers tell him both what he had dreamed and what it meant. They could not. They were baffled. Then Daniel was brought before the king.
Daniel disclaimed any more human ability to interpret dreams than the Chaldean magicians. "But," he said, "there is a GOD in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days . . ." (Dan. 2:28).
First, God's purpose was to reveal to this world-ruling human king that there is a GOD in heaven; that GOD is SUPREME RULER over all nations, governments and kings; that God RULES THE UNIVERSE-even though, during the past 6,000 years, God has allowed nations generally to be left altogether to their own devices. But God was giving Nebuchadnezzar a special opportunity to accept His rule.
This Chaldean king knew only about the many pagan demon gods. He knew nothing of the true living ALMIGHTY God. Like people and rulers, even today, he did not know that GOD is the living, REAL, active, RULING and GOVERNING PERSONAGE who actually and literally governs not only what is on earth, but the entire UNIVERSE!
The whole purpose of this DREAM was to reveal GOD'S GOVERNMENT: the fact that God RULES, the truth of THE KINGDOM OF GOD-the very thing that is the one and only true GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! And, secondly, to reveal-preserved in writing for us TODAY-what is to happen "in the latter days"-probably within the next two decades-this last half of the twentieth century!
This is no dry, dull, dead writing for a people of 2,500 years ago. This is living, tremendous, big news for our day! It is advance news for us, now. News before it happens-of the most colossal event of all earth's history.
Read, in your own Bible, Daniel 2, verses 28 through 35. In his dream, this king had seen a stupendous statue-larger than any image or statue ever built by man-so tremendous it was terrifying, even in a dream. Its head was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, legs of solid iron, feet and toes a mixture of iron and clay.
There was a time element. Nebuchadnezzar had viewed it until a supernatural STONE came from heaven, smashing the statue on its feet. Then the whole of the statue broke into small fragments and was actually blown away by the wind-it disappeared! Then this STONE expanded miraculously and quickly became a great MOUNTAIN-so great it filled the whole earth!
What did it mean? Did it have meaning? Yes, because this was God's doing. Unlike ordinary dreams, this one was caused by God to convey the message of God's sovereignty to Nebuchadnezzar-and, because it is part of the written Word of God to us today-to reveal important facts of the TRUE GOSPEL!
"This is the dream," said Daniel (verse 36), "and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king."
This, then, is GOD'S interpretation. Men ought never to interpret the Bible. The Bible gives us GOD'S OWN INTERPRETATION! Here it is (verse 37):
"Thou, 0 king, art a king of kings [he was the first real WORLD RULER over a world empire]: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory." God was revealing Himself to this human world dictator as the MOST HIGH Ruler over all.
People today, like this Chaldean king, seem not to think of God as a RULER-as the Supreme One who GOVERNS-as the Head of GOVERNMENT. The Eternal was revealing Himself through Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar-and through the Bible to you and to me TODAY-as a sovereign, all-powerful, governing God who is to be obeyed!
This knowledge is another PROOF of the modern identity of God's one true Church!
"Thou," continued Daniel to this human emperor, "art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another KINGDOM inferior to thee, and another third KINGDOM of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth" (verses 38-39).
Notice! This is speaking of KINGDOMS. It is referring to kingdoms that bear rule over the people on earth. It is speaking of GOVERNMENTS! It is not speaking of ethereal sentiments "set up in the hearts of men." It is not speaking of churches. It is speaking of the kind of GOVERNMENTS that bear RULE and AUTHORITY over nations of PEOPLE here on earth. It is literal. It is specific. There is no misunderstanding here as to what is meant by the word "KINGDOM."
There is no misunderstanding the interpretation. GOD gives His own interpretation through the prophet Daniel. The great metallic image represented national and international GOVERNMENTS-real, literal KINGDOMS.
It represented a succession of world-ruling governments. First was the head of gold. That represented Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom- the Chaldean Empire. After him- later in time sequence-was to come a second, then a third, KINGDOM, "which shall bear RULE over all the earth"-world empire!
Then, verse 40, the legs of iron represent a fourth world empire. It was to be strong, even as iron is strong-stronger militarily than its predecessors. Yet, as silver is less valuable than gold, brass than silver, iron than brass, though each metal was harder and stronger, the succession would deteriorate morally and spiritually. The two legs meant the fourth empire would be divided.
After the Chaldean Empire came the still larger Persian Empire, then the Greco-Macedonian and fourth, the Roman Empire. It was divided, with capitals at Rome and Constantinople.
Now-verse 44! Read it! Get your Bible. See it with your own eyes in your own Bible. Here, in PLAIN LANGUAGE, is God's explanation of what the KINGDOM OF GOD is: "And in the days of these kings...." It is here speaking of the ten toes, part of iron and part of brittle clay. This, by connecting the prophecy with Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 and 17, is referring to the new UNITED STATES OF EUROPE, which is now forming out of the European Common Market before your very eyes! Revelation 17:12 makes plain the detail that it shall be a union of ten KINGS OR KINGDOMS that (Rev. 17:8) shall resurrect the medieval "HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE."
So, mark carefully the time element! "In the days of these kings"- in the days of these ten nations or groups of nations that shall, in our time, resurrect briefly the Roman Empire-notice what shall happen: ". . . shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed . . . but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever"!
Now here we have described FOUR universal world empires-the only four that ever existed! Revelation 17 shows that after the fall of the original Roman Empire there would be SEVEN revivals that would be ruled over by a Gentile CHURCH-the "daughter" of ancient BABYLON-a church claiming to be Christian, but actually named by God "MYSTERY BABYLON the Great"-or, more plainly, BABYLONIAN MYSTERIES! Six of those have come and gone. The seventh is now forming-the last, final, brief resurrection of the "Holy Roman Empire" by ten European groups or nations. These are the ten toes of iron and clay mixed. In their days-and they shall last but a very short space, possibly no more than two to three and a half years-shall the GOD OF HEAVEN SET UP A KINGDOM.
This, then, shall be THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
Compare with Revelation 17. Here is pictured a church. Not a small church-a GREAT church. She rules over "many waters" (verse 1), which are described in verse 15 as different nations speaking different languages. She posed as the Church of GOD-which Scripture says (Eph. 5:23; Rev. 19:7; Matthew 25:1-10) is the affianced bride of CHRIST, to be spiritually MARRIED to Him at His second COMING.
But she has committed fornication. How? By having direct political union with HUMAN GOVERNMENTS of THIS WORLD! She "sat on" (Rev. 17:3) all seven of these resurrections of the Roman Empire-called the "Holy Roman Empire." She RULED OVER the human kingdoms-as a common-law and unmarried "wife" ruling her paramour "husband"-a totally unnatural and ungodly relationship.
She is, therefore, to "sit on" this last "head of the beast"-this final resurrection of the Roman Empire. It will be a union of church and state. It is to endure but a very short time. It is to FIGHT AGAINST CHRIST at His SECOND COMING! That will be its END.
We see it in process of rising now. Therefore we are CLOSE to the coming of Christ! We are now very near the END of this world!
When Christ comes, He is coming as KING of kings, ruling the whole earth (Rev. 19:11-16); and His KINGDOM-the Kingdom of God- said Daniel, is to CONSUME all these worldly kingdoms.
Revelation 11:15 states it in these words: ". . . The kingdoms of this world are become THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD, AND OF HIS CHRIST; and he shall reign forever and ever"!
This is THE KINGDOM OF GOD. It is the END of present governments- the governments that rule Russia, China, Japan, Italy, Germany-yes, and even the United States and the British nations. They then shall become the kingdoms-the GOVERNMENTS-of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, then KING of kings over the entire earth.
This makes completely PLAIN the fact that the KINGDOM OF GOD is a literal GOVERNMENT. Even as the Chaldean Empire was a KINGDOM, even as the Roman Empire was a KINGDOM-so the KINGDOM OF GOD is a government. It is to take over the GOVERNMENT of the NATIONS of the world.
Jesus Christ was BORN to be a KING-A RULER!
When He stood, on trial for His life, before Pilate, "Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world. . . ." But Jesus also said to Pilate: ". .. My kingdom is not of this world . . ." (John 18:37, 36). His Kingdom is of THE WORLD TOMORROW!
Have you not read what the angel proclaimed to Mary, the mother of Jesus, prior to His birth? Jesus told Pilate He was born to become a KING. The angel of God said to Mary: ". . . thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the THRONE of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be NO END" (Luke 1:31-33).
These scriptures tell you PLAINLY that GOD is supreme RULER. They tell you in plainest language that Jesus was born to be a KING-that He is going to RULE ALL NATIONS OF THE EARTH-that His Kingdom shall rule eternally.
But all this is only part of the fantastic, amazing, actually SHOCKING TRUTH about the KINGDOM OF GOD.
The KINGDOM OF GOD will rule over the peoples and nations of the earth. Yet these mortal peoples and nations will NOT be the Kingdom, not even in the Kingdom of God. They shall merely be RULED BY IT!
We still have to learn OF WHAT or OF WHOM it is composed. Can YOU, as an individual, ever become a part of this Kingdom?
In Jesus' day, the religious leaders knew He was a teacher sent from God with GOD'S TRUTH. They branded Him a false prophet, heretic and seditionist. Yet they knew His was the voice of GOD!
One of them, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, occupying an office of authority over the Jews, came secretly by night to see Jesus. "Rabbi," said this Pharisee, "we know that thou art a teacher come from God" (John 3:2). Yes, we Pharisees, he said, know that! He did not say, "I know it." He said, "We know"-we Pharisees! They knew He spoke the TRUTH-yet they not only rejected it, they crucified Him!
But Jesus hewed straight to the line! He told Nicodemus about THE KINGDOM OF GOD. He told him some things you need to UNDERSTAND!
Notice! "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Yes, notice! The Kingdom of God is something that CAN be seen, but only by those who have been "born again." It is something others cannot see! Request our free booklet Just What Do You Mean- Born Again?
But what about the CHURCH? Can carnal people SEE A CHURCH? Of course! But they cannot see the Kingdom of God! So SAID JESUS! Then, if you believe Jesus, the CHURCH cannot be the Kingdom of God!
Notice further: "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (verse 5). The Kingdom of God is something that can be entered into-BUT, only those "born of water and of the Spirit" can enter into it!
He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh IS FLESH; and that which is born of the Spirit IS SPIRIT" (John 3:5-6).
Notice further! In the resurrection chapter of the Bible, we read: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (I Cor. 15:50). The Kingdom of God is something no human, of flesh and blood, can enter or inherit!
Let's take a good look at this. First realize, if the Bible does say the Kingdom of God is found in men's minds or hearts, it is contradicted by all the other scriptures I am giving you in this article. If the Bible does contradict itself, you can't believe it anyway-so then it still would prove nothing. First, to whom is Jesus speaking? Read it! "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21).
He was speaking to the unconverted, carnal, hypocritical, lying Pharisees. Notice, "He answered them and said. . .." It was the Pharisees who asked Him the question. Were they in the CHURCH? No, never! If one thinks the Kingdom was "within" the Pharisees-was THE CHURCH within the Pharisees? Such an assumption is rather ridiculous, now, isn't it?
Notice again precisely WHAT JESUS SAID. Remember the CHURCH had not yet been set up. Jesus did not say, "The Kingdom of God shall be set up in your hearts." He said none of the things people interpret into this verse. He said to the Pharisees that "the Kingdom of God is"-present tense, NOW! Whatever He was saying the Kingdom of God is, He made it present tense, not future.
Luke wrote these words, originally, in the Greek language. The Greek words he wrote were translated into the English words "within you." But, if you have a Bible with the marginal references, you will notice that this is alternately rendered "in the midst of you" or "among you." The context indicates that this indeed is the better translation. If your Bible is a Moffatt translation, you will notice that the translation recognized that Jesus was talking of His reign or rule, at the head of government.
This is the Moffatt translation of the same verse: "He answered them, The Reign of God is not coming as you hope to catch sight of it; no one will say, 'Here it is' or 'There it is,' for the Reign of GOD is NOW IN YOUR MIDST."
The Revised Standard translation renders it: ". . . the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." All these translations render it present tense.
Jesus was not talking about a church soon to be organized. He was not talking about sentiments in the mind or heart. He was talking about His REIGN as the Messiah! The Pharisees were not asking Him about a church. They knew nothing of any New Testament Church soon to be started. They were not asking about a pretty sentiment. They knew, from the prophecies of Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and others, that their Messiah was to come.
This world trouble began in 1914, with World War I. There was a recess from 1918 until 1939. We are in a second recess now-although we have been in what we call "the COLD WAR." But now at last we have nuclear energy. We have hydrogen bombs stockpiled in such power and volume that they could blast all human life off this planet several times over. There are two other destructive weapons today in existence, either of which could erase humanity from the earth.
Today world-famous scientists say only a super world government can prevent world cosmocide. Yet MEN cannot and will not get together to form such a world-ruling government.
It's time we face the hard, cold, realistic FACT. Humanity has two alternatives: Either there is an almighty, all-powerful GOD who is about to step in and set up THE KINGDOM OF GOD to rule all nations with supernatural and supranational FORCE to bring us PEACE-or else all human life would be obliterated (Matt. 24:22).
If the deceived religionists who think the CHURCH is the Kingdom of God were right, and there is not going to be any supernatural and all-powerful WORLD GOVERNMENT, which is the Kingdom of God, then humanity is utterly without HOPE. All human life is in danger of extinction.
But notice what Jesus Christ said!
Can you BELIEVE JESUS CHRIST?
Where is your trust-in the Word of God or in paganized, empty, deceiving teachings falsely labeled "Christianity"-inherited as "Christian tradition"-which say the CHURCH is the Kingdom of God, or that the Kingdom is merely a meaningless, frothy and ethereal sentiment "set up in our hearts"? It's about time you come to know who are the false prophets, and WHO is speaking the true Word of God faithfully!