What is the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God really all about?
Is it simply a group or corporation who thinks it follows the right rules?
Within 25 hours of the formation of the Continuing Church of God, I posted that it was really all about love (see The Philadelphia remnant: it is really all about love). The ‘give way’ of life.
While rules are important (cf. John 14:15; Matthew 23:23), what is most important?
According to the Jesus, the apostles, and the late Herbert W. Armstrong, and the Continuing Church of God, love is what is most important.
God's plan involves love. Notice what Jesus said:
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
But it is not just God who is to love. Notice some of what Mark recorded:
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:28-34)
The importance of love is confirmed by many in the New Testament. Notice the following statement from the Apostle Paul:
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Notice some passages written by the Apostle John:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:7-21)
1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:1-4)
The following is from Herbert Armstrong’s book The Mystery of the Ages:
True religion–God’s truth empowered with the love of God imparted by the Holy Spirit…JOY UNSPEAKABLE of knowing God and Jesus Christ–of knowing TRUTH–and the warmth of God’s divine LOVE!…
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”… And what was Jesus’ appearance? It was that of a human man, for he also was the Son of man…
Most important of all however is what is God’s nature–his CHARACTER–like? One cannot know what God is unless he know what his CHARACTER is!
THE CHARACTER of both God the Father and Christ the Son is that of spiritual holiness, righteousness and absolute perfection.
That character might be summed up in the one word LOVE, defined as an outflowing, loving concern. It is the way of giving, serving, helping, sharing, not the “GET” way.
It is the way devoid of coveting, lust and greed, vanity and selfishness, competition, strife, violence and destruction, envy and jealousy, resentment and bitterness…
God’s law is spiritual and can be summed up in one simple but all-inclusive word–love. His law for the guidance of human conduct is subdivided into the two great commandments, love toward God and love toward neighbor. These, in turn, are subdivided into the 10 Commandments. Jesus magnified this law by showing how its principle expands to cover virtually every possible human infraction…
Bear in mind the government of God is based on the LAW of God, which is the way of life of outflowing LOVE, cooperation, concern for the good of the governed…
Full comprehension of God’s LAW (his way of life) is imparted by God through the Holy Spirit. But the law of God requires action and performance, and LOVE is the fulfilling of God’s law (Rom. 13:10), and it can be fulfilled only by the love of and from God (Rom. 5:5)…
In the plagues God caused against Egypt, God was turning the Egyptian gods and objects of worship against them to show them that these were not gods. Even the plagues were sent in LOVE for the Egyptians…
A Christian must grow and develop in grace, spiritual knowledge and godly character… showing more love or outgoing concern toward others…
The very basic teaching, belief AND DOCTRINE OF God’s true Church therefore is based on the righteousness of and obedience to the law of God. That law is LOVE. But it is not human love. Human love cannot rise above the level of human self-centeredness. It must be “the love of God…shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy [Spirit]” (Rom. 5:5). Ancient Israel could not really obey God’s law–they could have kept it according to the strict letter of the law. But since love is the fulfilling of the law and they had only human self-centered love, they could not have kept the law according to the spirit–because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given.
This basic teaching includes, therefore, all the “fruits of the Holy Spirit”–love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, etc.
The teachings of God’s true Church are simply those of “living by every word” of the Holy Bible…
Men shall turn from the way of “get” to the way of “give”–God’s way of love.
A NEW CIVILIZATION shall now grip the earth!
Proclaiming that new civilization is to come and be based upon love is a major part of what the true gospel of the kingdom is all about.
The Apostle Paul referred to part of it in one place as “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
The Apostle Paul also wrote:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Many think that they have knowledge, faith, etc. and think that they are fine. But most Christians in the end times do not have Philadelphian love. They do not have the work that God expects them to have.
Jesus warned that the Laodiceans thought they needed nothing, but He said that they needed to change (Revelation 3:14-22). Paul says love, however does not puff up.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Many Laodiceans say that they have endured enough, hence do not wish to risk making the type of changes that those with Philadelphian love would make.
Love is never fails and is more important than what many in the last days are focused on.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)
To learn about your own role, please check out the article What is the Meaning of Life?
Why Is There a Philadelphian Remnant?
The Laodicean Church is the last one mentioned in the book of Revelation (Revelation 3:14-22). As the last, it is the one that will be the most dominant at the time of the end. The word "Laodicea" can be rendered "the people rule," "judgment of the people," or the "people decide." Laodicea is characterized by a rejection of the governance accepted by the Philadelphians--the acceptance of church leaders in accordance with scripture (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11-16), and by a general lukewarm attitude. Thus governance can be seen as a key distinction between Philadelphia and Laodicea. Laodicea places emphasis on self (of the individuals or the leaders as opposed to proclaiming the whole truth including the Gospel), thus it also waters down the Truth-and so is "rebuked and chastened" and counseled "to buy from Me gold refined in the fire" (Revelation 3:18-19).
Because Laodicea is dominant at the end of the age, Philadelphia cannot be predominant in numbers then. However, a portion of Philadelphia must still exist.
We know this because Jesus told the Philadelphians: "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly!" (Revelation 3:10-11). The Philadelphians, those of the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God, are the only ones promised protection! The Philadelphians are "given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent" (Revelation 12:14).
Now what does love have to do with the Philadelphia remnant? Notice the following passage:
1 Let brotherly love continue. (Hebrews 13:1)
The Greek word translated as “brotherly love” is the word Philadelphia. The writer of the Book of Hebrews may have been inspired by God to convey two concepts:
It is important for all to realize that despite flaws of Christians, including those of us of the Philadelphia remnant, that love is what God’s way of life and His kingdom are really all about. And that spreading that message of love and all of God’s ways is what the Continuing Church of God wants to be about.
This message was subject the first Sabbath service of the Continuing Church of God. It was also the first message that I gave in Kenya when I visited there in 2014.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance shows that Philadelphia means "love of brethren" or "fond of brethren."
When Jesus used the term phileo with Simon Peter (translated as "love"), what was Peter to do to show this type of love? He was to do the work.
17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep" (John 21:17).
A trait of Philadelphians is that they love the brethren and will sacrifice to do so. While some may argue that this only means taking care of those already in the Church, this is inconsistent with Matthew 28:18-19 as well as Jesus' words in John 10:16: "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd."
Philadelphians love others, not just themselves. As Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:
This era of the Church was to produce fruit (Mystery of the Ages, p. 290).
True religion--God's truth empowered with the love of God imparted by the Holy Spirit...JOY UNSPEAKABLE of knowing God and Jesus Christ--of knowing TRUTH--and the warmth of God's divine LOVE! (Mystery of the Ages)
As Jesus taught: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:35). Philadelphians will give their all to proclaim the Gospel.
Philadelphians have "a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name" (Revelation 3:8). They are not part of an especially strong church (or a large church by the world's standards). They have kept God's word without watering it down. They have not denied Christ's authority (which is essentially how Strong's defines the word translated as "name").
The Philadelphians accept that "Christ is head of the church" (Ephesians 5:23), and accept authority within the Church:
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ (Ephesians 4:11-15).
Philadelphians are organized and they need to keep preaching to the world until the end comes, since they will be around until the end comes. Philadelphians have the love of God and their neighbors to do the proclamation work.
They will also assist in the preparation for the short work God will accomplish (Romans 9:28; see also Preparing for the 'Short Work' and The Famine of the Word).
It is the highly dedicated in the real Church of God that will finish the final phase of the work before (Matthew 24:14; see also the video Implications of Matthew 24:14) and during (Revelation 11:3-14) the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord--and the final phase will also involve dealing with the ecumenical religion that will rise up (cf. Revelation 13:4,8; 14:9-13)--and this is what the Continuing Church of God is doing (see also The Final Phase of the Work).
Although various ones do not understand, the true Philadelphia remnant is all about love. Love towards God, love towards one neighbor, and possessing a real love of the truth.
A related video is available: Nairobi Conference: All About Love.
Much more on Philadelphia can be found in the article The Philadelphia Church Era.
Thiel B. The Philadelphia Remnant: It's All About Love. COGwriter (c) 2016/2017 0415 http://www.cogwriter.com/all-about-love.htm
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