“Elijah in the wilderness“
The latest edition of Shepherd’s Voice just arrived several hours ago in the mail. In it is an article by Norman Edwards (who was a former board member of the old Global Church of God and now runs Church Bible Teaching Ministry), related to prophets. He told me he was writing this a while back, but I did not know what was in it until several hours ago.
Anyway, I also spoke with Norman Edwards a few hours ago, and here is information from some of the beginning of his article:
Some people believe the Old Testament Seventh-Day Sabbath- keeping continued into the New Testament and through today, but others do not. Similarly, some people believe God continued to prophesy—speak through believers in the New Testament through today, but others do not. Some accept both and some believe in neither.
What does the Bible say? What can we do about this? We will see.
It is interesting that the same arguments are used against both modern-day Sabbath-keeping and prophesying:
• God is not working this way any more.
• Christianity has not traditionally done these things, so they must not be necessary.
• We do not do this in our church organization, so God must not be either requiring or inspiring it any longer.
• These things are not well- respected any more—or just plain weird.
Sadly, the idea that God uses prophets and dreams is considered so weird to many that they cannot accept what the Bible teaches about those subjects (see How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God and Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God).
I will leave most of Norman Edward’s comments about the Seventh-day Sabbath out in this post (even though I do keep it), and pick the article back up where he goes more into prophets (bolding and italics are his):
Old Testament Preponderance of Prophets
Remove prophets from the Old Testament and there is not much left. In the Pentateuch—the first five books—Enoch, Abraham, Moses and Aaron were all regarded as prophets (Jude 1:14; Genesis 20:7; Deuteronomy 34:10; Exodus 7:1). After the Pentateuch, almost everything else is the words of a prophet. Jesus recognized the Old Testament Scripture divisions of the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Luke 16:16; John 1:45) and “Law, Prophets and Psalms” (Luke 24:44).
Indeed, the Jewish Scribes classify Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Chronicles and several small books as “The Writings”. These are possibly the least prophetic books, but there are many Psalms that are prophetic of Christ—David being a prophet (Acts 2:29-30). Chronicles contains some of the same prophets as Kings and the five “Festival Books” are also treated as prophetic allegory.
The Jewish Scribes have long regarded the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings as the “Former Prophets”, including the stories of the prophets Samuel, Nathan, Gad, Elijah, Elisha, etc. The “Latter Prophets” are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and the twelve “Minor Prophets”. Whether it be the writing of Scripture, or a spoken but unwritten prophecy (1 Kings 22:8), these prophets were the communication between God and mankind.
The scripture gives us a definition of a prophet—showing that there are different kinds of them:
Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:6-8).
Some prophets hear from God in visions or dreams. A very few—like Moses—speak to him face to face. Other scriptures show that some prophets hear from angels (Judges 6:11-12; Numbers 22:35; 1 Kings 13:18; Zechariah 1:1 – 6:9). But the common thread of all of this is that it is a message directly from God. Occasionally, people will think this verse means that an exhortation or exposition of the Scripture is prophesying: “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men” (1 Corinthians 14:3). This scripture gives the effect of prophecy, not the definition of it. Every place in the scripture where we have the words of a prophecy, it is something that God gave that would otherwise not be known. Every place where the Scripture gives the words of a prophecy, we can see that it was the words of God—something people would not know on their own. It is not simply a sermon, teaching, or repeat of other Scripture. The Apostle Peter concurs:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:20-21).
If a person prophesies once, does that make him a prophet? Probably not! A person can prophesy a time or two, but not be able to do it whenever he wants, whereas the major prophets of the Bible often went to God with a variety of questions and received answers. The Scripture contains no clear definition of how many times a person must prophesy to become a “prophet”. King Saul is an interesting example. Twice, the Spirit of God came upon him and he prophesied, but near the end of his life he sought the word of the Lord and did not receive it (1 Samuel 10:10-12; 19:20-24; 28:6). The people of his day made a saying: “Is Saul among the prophets?” They did not know for sure if Saul was a prophet, and we may not always know who is a prophet today. But we know we can trust the prophecies of Scripture, and the New Testament tells us how to deal with the prophets of our day.
Prophets Continue in New Testament
The words “prophet”, “prophecy”, “prophesy”, and their various forms occur in 202 verses in the New Testament
• 40 refer to specific Old Testament prophets or their prophecies (Matthew 1:22; 2:5, 15, 17, 23; 3:3; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17, 39; 13:14, 35; 15:7; 16:4; 21:4; 24:15; 27:9, 35; Mark 1:2; 7:6; 13:14; Luke 3:4; 4:17, 27; 11:29; John 1:21, 23, 25; 12:38; Acts 2:16, 30; 3:24; 7:42, 48; 8:28, 30, 34; 13:20; 28:25; Jude 1:14).
• 36 refer to prophets in general—could be Old, New or between Testaments (Matthew 13:57; 23:29, 30, 31, 34, 37; Mark 6:4, 15; Luke 1:70; 4:24; 6:23; 11:47, 49, 50; 13:28, 33, 34; John 4:19; 7:52; Acts 3:18, 21, 25; 7:52; 10:43; Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; James 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Peter 1:19; 3:2; Revelation 10:7; 11:18; 16:6; 18:20, 24; 22:6).
• 24 are references to the portion of the Old Testament Scripture known as “the Prophets” (Matthew 5:17; 7:12; 22:40; 26:56; Luke 16:16, 29, 31; 18:31; 24:25, 27, 44; John 1:45; 6:45; Acts 13:15, 27, 40; 15:15; 24:14; 26:22, 27; 28:23; Romans 1:2; 3:21; 16:26).
• 23 verses show that prophesying is a gift of the Holy Spirit which Christians should seek and use in Christian congregations as instructed (Acts 2:17, 18; 19:6; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 11:4, 5; 12:10, 28; 14:1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 22, 24, 31, 39; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:20; 1 Timothy 1:18; 4:14; Revelation 19:10; 22:9).
• 19 refer to false prophets which often tried to deceive believers (Matthew 7:15, 22; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; Luke 6:26; 7:26, 28; 20:6; Acts 13:6; Titus 1:12; 2 Peter 2:1, 16; 1 John 4:1; Revelation 2:20; 10:11; 16:13; Revelation 19:20; 20:10). • 18 verses refer to 19 specific New Testament prophets or their prophecies: Zecharias (father of John the Baptist), John the Baptist, Anna, Caiaphas, Agabus, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, Saul, Judas, Silas, Philip’s four daughters, the apostle John and the “two witnesses” (Matthew 11:9, 21:26; Mark 11:32; Luke 1:76; 2:36; John 11:51; Acts 13:1; 15:32; 21:9, 10; Revelation 1:3; 11:3, 6, 10; 22:7; 10, 18, 19).
• 16 verses refer to the Old Testament prophets generally (Matthew 5:12; 11:13; 13:17; 16:14; Mark 8:28; Luke 9:8, 19; 10:24; John 8:52, 53; Romans 11:3; Hebrews 1:1; 11:32; 1 Peter 1:10; 2 Peter 1:20, 21).
• 16 verses call Jesus a “prophet” (Matthew 14:5; 21:11, 46; 26:68; Mark 16:65; Luke 7:16, 39; 22:64; 24:19; John 4:19; 6:14; 7:40; 9:17; Acts 3:22, 23; 7:37).
• 7 verses give cautions to prophecy: It is not the most important; It is not necessary for every believer; It may require other believers to judge its validity and agreement with Scripture; Prophets should have control of themselves when they prophesy (1 Corinthians 12:29; 13:2, 8, 9; 14:29, 32, 37).
• 3 verses refer to unidentified New Testament prophets (Matthew 10:41; Acts 11:27; 19:6).
In summary, the Gospels and Acts make many references to the Old Testament prophecies of Christ and to the Pharisees and Sadducees’ ancestors who persecuted the Old Testament prophets. In Romans through Revelation, most of the verses are about the spiritual gift of prophecy and its use in the church.
We will cite a few examples:
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith (Romans 12:6).
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1).
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge (1 Corinthians 14:29).
Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:39-40).
Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:20).
“And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. … These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire (Revelation 11:3, 6).
The exact same words are used for both Old and New Testament prophets and prophecies. There is not a big powerful word for Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah, and a “little prophet” word used for Agabus and Philip’s four prophesying daughters. They all prophesy—speak for God at times. For those who have studied New Testament prophets, it seems so natural. But for many believers, especially those in big church organizations, it is a point of difficulty. Why?
Prophets Do Not Come
Easily Obviously, one cannot prophesy by one’s own will. God has to do it. But most Christians do not pray for the gift and would be skeptical of others who claim to have it. Why? Because the message God gives to prophets is sometimes hard to take. It may not be in agreement with what we want or think. It will often not be in agreement with today’s religious or political leaders. Church organizations usually function by making goals, budgets, doctrinal statements, evangelistic plans, growth targets, etc. Leaders can control these things, but they cannot control God or His prophets and prophecies. Prophets speak God’s words and may or may not agree with the teachings and practices of a church group. Notice these New Testament prophecies that were not easy for the leaders and the people to accept:
Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. “And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. “And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:10-15).
And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea (Acts 11:27-29).
Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them (Acts 16:6).
“And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.” (Acts 20:22-25).
These messages would be hard to accept, but they were from God and they were true. The Church believed them, acted accordingly and God’s work was done. But it is easy for Christians to seek congregations that tell them: “God loves us the most”, “we have the most truth”, “everything is getting better for us”, and “all will go well for us in the future.”
In spite of this overwhelming New Testament teaching, some will still point to verses, such as the following, and claim that God stopped providing prophets at some time in the first century. Some say the writing and copying of both Old and New Testaments made prophets unnecessary. Here are two verses they cite:
“For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John” (Matthew 11:13).
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds (Hebrews 1:1-2).
There is no doubt that Jesus Christ is greater than all of the prophets, and that His message is more important. The Gospels are vital revelations and so is the dwelling of Christ in us (Colossians 1:27).But these verses do not declare the end of prophets and prophecy—they introduce the greater revelation of Christ. Christ is greater than our fleshly bodies, but we still have them and will be judged for how we use them (2 Corinthians 5:1-10). Christ is greater than our civil governments, but the Scripture teaches obedience to them (Romans 13). Christ is greater than the law— including the Sabbath, but that law is still used; it is written in our hearts (Hebrews 8:10). Christ’s ongoing use of prophets and prophecy is taught throughout the New Testament— whereas no verses teach that it has ended. Even the very testimony of Jesus is called “the spirit of prophecy” at the end of the Bible:
“… I [an angel] am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
With dozens of New Testament Scriptures explaining and encouraging the ongoing prophecy in the New Testament and with no scriptures clearly declaring its end, one must conclude that prophets and prophecy are something that God wants for His Church today!
Implementing These Truths
In this 21 st century, most who call themselves Christian neither observe the Sabbath nor seek prophets or prophecies in their congregations. A few teach and practice one or the other. Only a tiny fraction accepts both.
The single biggest difficulty in acquiring any truth, no matter how valuable, is overcoming our own human pride. It is very difficult to accept that we have been wrong about something for many years— especially when we have been right on other things. The lessons of the books of Kings and Chronicles come to mind. Each king’s life is frequently summed up in a single statement— explaining what he did right and where he fell short. If we hunger and thirst for God as King David did (Psalm 63:1; 107:9), we can receive all that he has for us—and obtain a good report (Acts 22:12; Hebrews 11:2, 39).
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Beyond our personal decision to accept a biblical truth, we find difficulty dealing with Christian friends with whom we will differ. From our long friendships, we see each other as fellow believers. But our difference in Biblical understanding raises the questions in each person’s mind: If I do this and they do that, am I wrong? Are they wrong? Should I continue to fellowship with them?
These things often require prayer and patience by all involved. When the Gospel was taken to non-Jews, many Jewish believers had trouble with the concept (John 4, Acts 10 & 11). When the apostles taught that circumcision was not necessary for salvation, again, some believers could not accept it and formed a “circumcision” subgroup within the church that was sometimes helpful and sometimes not (Acts 15; Colossians 4:11; Titus 1:10). We need to learn to coexist in peace, in spite of our differences, as the Apostle Paul encouraged (1 Corinthians 1:11-15).
Finally, for members of a church group with a doctrinal statement that is decades or centuries old, growth is rarely quick or even possible. Both religious and civil leaders struggle with prophets today for the same reason they did in the Old and New Testaments. The prophets speak for God, not for the religious or civil leaders of the day. People who always prophesy what the leaders want are probably false prophets.
This writer heard a church leader put forth this argument against prophets in the church: “If there are real prophets today, then we could ask them and know for sure when Christ will come back. But the Bible says that no man knows that time, so there cannot be prophets today.” We should never underestimate God. He is quite able to not answer the questions we do not need answered now. Jesus already explained this leader’s question:
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:6-8).
Individual believers can choose to accept and practice the Scriptural truth about prophets quietly. But if they speak openly and often, they will probably be required to depart for a new congregation. This takes faith to “walk in the wilderness” until new believing friends are established. …
One can quietly come to understand that God grants the gift of prophecy today and continue to fellowship and serve with the same brethren. But when a believer receives a prophecy in a church meeting (1 Corinthians 1 4:30) or makes important life decisions based on a current prophesy, then division often arises. Is this person hearing from God? Should we take action on what he says?
For example, when Agabus prophesied the famine throughout the world (Acts 11:30-31), should the believers have agreed to send relief to the brethren in Judea? Or should they have been suspicious that someone was going to profit from that operation—maybe steal some of the offerings? Or was this giving simply unnecessary? When we think about it, there is no reason for God to speak unless His people are going to listen to what He says and act upon it. We also need to realize that God gives the congregation the responsibility of judging prophecies:
“If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge (1 Corinthians 14:29).
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).
Hearing from God by a current prophetic word can be an awesome experience. It can be a frightening one. This writer has experienced both. Keeping the Sabbath can be an awesome experience—rest, relaxation and leisurely fellowship with God’s people. It can also be a doctrine of contention with one brother judging another. This writer has experienced both.
With the Judgment You Judge, You Will Be Judged
Brethren who have practiced both of these Biblical teachings know what a blessing they can be. Even so, most probably did not understand these things on the day when they were baptized. We have to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). So we ought to not be judgmental of others who take time to learn these things.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Matthew 7:1-2).
Unfortunately, many Sabbath- keeping church groups judge others as unbelievers because they do not observe the Sabbaths. Also, many “charismatic” or “Pentecostal” groups judge others as unbelievers because they do not accept the gift of prophecy in their congregations. Furthermore, many other groups consider both teachings obsolete, legalistic, Jewish, phony or just plain weird. We all need to get back to the Scriptures and learn. But more specifically, we need to ask ourselves, if we judge others as unbelievers because of a truth they are missing, will we be judged by God as unbelievers for a truth we are missing? Will God be merciful to us and not to all the others? Why?
Some people dismiss one of these truths by simply saying, “God obviously is not working that way anymore” because He has not worked that way among them. But how many really seek God and ask Him, “Do you want our congregation to meet on the seventh day Sabbath?” or “Do you want our congregation to seek the gift of prophecy and allow prophets to speak in our meetings?”
One of the most dangerous things we can do is begin thinking we already have everything important (Revelation 3:17-19). We must forever be humble before God and realize that He is bringing about His will. He is not there to back up our will or the policies of our church group. He also knows when is the right time to teach each truth to each person. Even Jesus could not teach His apostles everything at once:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12).
There is so much in the Scripture. This writer realizes he will not master it all before he dies. But he will be thankful for what He has given, and trust Him for the future. (Edwards N. New Testament Sabbaths and Prophets. Shepherd’s Voice, Fall 2016).
A while back, Norman Edwards also wrote an article Need Prophets More than Prophecy. where he went through additional scriptures. Here are some items from that article:
Do people today have faith that God is able to prophecy through people in their congregations?
1Jo 4:1-2 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
Note: If there were no true prophets, there would be no need to “test the spirits”—because every prophet would be a “false prophet”. But because there are both true prophets and false prophets, we need to “test the spirits”.
Rev 1:1-3 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
The last book of the Bible is a prophecy inspired by Christ, given to the apostle and prophet named John.
Rev 10:7 But in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.
There is no Old Testament prophecy about a “seventh angel” and very little about a “mystery of God”.
Rev 10:10-11 Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”
Here an angel is commanding John (or some end-time fulfillment of him) to prophesy. It does not say what he is to prophesy, but it will be given to the prophets when they need it. …Yes, God might choose to give one of them the gift of prophecy, but since most such groups and their schools do not seek out prophetic gifts, they rarely receive them. Notice these important passages:
Matt 23:37-39 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! “See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ “
Matt 21:24-27 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John — where was it from? From heaven or from men?” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.” And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
If there was no prophet greater than John the Baptist (Matt 11:9-11) and if the leaders of his day refused to recognize him, what makes us think that the leaders of our day will recognize any true prophets today?
Here is a link to this article in the Spanish language: La Voz del Pastor: La Iglesia de Dios necesita más profetas.
Norman Edwards runs the Port Austin Bible Campus and is editor for Shepherd’s Voice magazine. He is not part of the Continuing Church of God, where, I function as its human leader (and am an ordained prophet; the only known such ordained prophet in any legitimate Church of God group).
While Norman Edwards and I have long disagreed about aspects of church governance and various matters of doctrine, we both agree that many who are in or claim to be in the Church of God (COG) wrongly do not accept that God has any prophets today and that Laodicean pride gets in the way. We also agree that most have severe difficulty to identify one who really is a prophet because of various unscriptural biases and improper criteria that they have.
Because of false prophets in a couple of COG-related groups and a disbelief in prophets by most of the COG groups, the non-Philadelphian COGs have a lot of severe prophetic misunderstandings.
Remember that the Bible teaches:
7 Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. ( Amos 3:7)
So, in the last days groups who do not believe there are prophets or those who listen to false prophets will not understand.
One thing that I have noticed is that the Laodiceans, as well as those of the Sardis Church, misunderstand end time prophecy.
As far as prophetic misunderstandings in various claimed COG groups that I have personally denounced, here is an abbreviated list:
- Many COG groups (ICG, CGI, UCG, COGaIC, CG7, CGG, CEM, etc.) do not officially teach and/or do not believe in the idea of Church eras (The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3), though they sometimes teach about the churches of Revelation. They tend to take more of a preterist (past) view of those churches, despite the fact that many statements made to them had to have future prophetic ramifications (e.g. Revelation 1:19; 3:3; 3:10). Because of that they do not teach certain prophetic aspects of this, most do not see their own problems and will have to go through the Great Tribulation.
- Many COG groups do not believe that the Gospel of the Kingdom still needs to be preached to the world as a witness per Matthew 24:14 (e.g. GCW, PCG), do not really make that a high priority (e.g. COGWA, CGG), or do so in less than truly loving the truth (cf. Jeremiah 48:10; see Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God), hence do not have the real Philadelphian work. As only the Philadelphians are promised to be protected from the hour of trial that will come on the whole world, they will not understand when Matthew 24:14 is fulfilled or when to flee per Matthew 24:15. Hence they do not have or lead the Philadelphian work. Only the Philadelphians are promised to be protected from the hour of trial that will come on the whole world (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra ). See also Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?
- At least three groups misunderstand the Gospel and COG doctrines so much (PCG, CGPfK, and RCG) that I question if their top leaders are actually converted members of the COG. Two of those leaders have had major predictions be proven false (CGPFK and RCG).
- Many, if not most, COG groups do not realize that the Great Tribulation begins with the King of the North invading the USA. UK, and/or their Anglo-Saxon descended allies (Daniel 11:39; see Who is the King of the North?; see also USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses).
- Many COG groups misunderstand the identity of the King of the South (Daniel 11:40-43), and some have the wrong prophetic sequence regarding the King of the South (see PCG and LCG do not understand the end-time King of the South sequence–do you?). This is not the order that Daniel 11 teaches (see Who is the King of the North?). This view overlooks the fact that since the Great Tribulation is the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), that it begins with the USA and its Anglo-Saxon allies like the United Kingdom getting invaded (cf. Daniel 11:39). Some of the groups cling to this sequential error, because it was once held by the late Herbert W. Armstrong, who changed his view by 1979 (Armstrong, Herbert W. The Time We Are In, Now. Pastor General’s Report-Vol 1, No. 15, November 20, 1979). Since the King of the North will eliminate those of the strongest fortresses (the USA, Canada, etc.) in Daniel 11:39, prior to invading the King of the South in Daniel 11:40, those who hold to this view will not know when the Great Tribulation will begin until after it has started.
- Some (CEG, GCG-UK) teach that there is no biblically-required King of the South, while at least one group is unsure (CGF-NW)–but this is an error (see also Is the Future King of the South Rising Up?). This error contributes to other prophetic errors that those groups have.
- Some have insisted that the final King of the South will be from the nation of Ethiopia. This is partially based upon a mistranslation in the KJV version of the Bible as well as a position that the late Herbert Armstrong held. However, he changed his position in the 1960s and 1970s to an Arabic-Muslim confederation. Those who insist that the final King of the South must be Ethiopia will not possibly realize that the Great Tribulation will begin until it is too late (RCG once held that position, but later changed it).
- Several COG groups (like CGG, RCG, PCG, COGWA) clearly misunderstand Daniel 9:27, the second half of which ties in with Daniel 11:31 and Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:15. Those who misunderstand it will not have a proper pre-warning of what is happening nor likely know when the Great Tribulation will begin. (see also The ‘Peace Deal’ of Daniel 9:27).
- Various COG groups (UCG, COGWA, COGaIC, RCG, and CGOM, come to immediate mind, but they are not the only ones) have so many areas of undefined prophecy that they will not know what certain events will mean. And groups who define matters wrongly will have problems that way as well (PCG and LCG come to immediate mind, but so do nearly all other COG claimed groups).
- A couple of groups, such as Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God and Triumph Prophetic Ministries, have been repeatedly proven wrong about their dates for the start of the Great Tribulation and the return of Jesus Christ. Those who rely on the leaders of those groups really do not understand biblical prophecy.
- Certain groups teach improper interpretations of the 1335, 1290, and 1260 days of Daniel 12 (CGPFK is one) or have other problems with that (most other COG groups) that they will not understand when the Great Tribulation will start. Herbert Armstrong changed his view on this by 1979 and many never understood the change.
- Most COG groups fail to understand Habakkuk 2:2-8 and hence are not properly getting the warning out to the USA and UK (see Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel). PCG totally misses it, and LCG, while it once would teach it, has backed off because of what appears to be internal politics. The rising ‘time bomb’ of USA debt is something that needs to be pointed out and Habakkuk 2:2-8 points out the biblical threat that this poses. It should be proclaimed and we in CCOG are doing it. Many do not realize that Habakkuk 2:2-8 is related to fleeing and the start of the Great Tribulation, that the time will come when those Philadelphians who understand it in its proper timeframe will flee (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra), and is one of the reasons for the attack against the indebted descendants of the tribes of Joseph.
- At least one group (LCG) is not longer certain that France or certain other Israelitish nations will support the Beast power (see Must the Ten Kings of Revelation 17:12 Rule over Ten Currently Existing Nations?). This differs from the position specifically taught by the late Dibar Apartian (see The ‘Lost Tribe’ of Reuben: France in Prophecy?) as well as what the Bible teaches (see Must the Ten Kings of Revelation 17:12 Rule over Ten Currently Existing Nations?). Those who misunderstand this are likely to not possibly realize when the final Beast power has formed.
- Many COG groups have various ‘Elijah heresies.’ Because of this, they will not be able to recognize the final Elijah. Some think it must have been Herbert Armstrong, despite the fact that he has been dead since 1986 and that death disqualifies him according to his writing about that (Mystery of the Ages. 1985, p. 349). Some think that either there is no Elijah to come or that is the church and not an individual, which goes against Jesus’ teachings on the subject in Mark 9:12-13 (for more details, see The Elijah Heresies).
- Many groups do not understand the differing persecutions (and other matters) to come in Daniel 7:25, 11:30-39, Matthew 24:9-22, and Revelation 12:14-17, hence when the prophesied wave of persecution initially hits the Philadelphians primarily (and not them), they will not see this persecution as evidence that the Great Tribulation is about to begin. The old Radio Church of God specifically applied the persecuting scriptures of Daniel 11:32-35 to the end time Philadelphian church (see also Persecutions by Church and State).
- Most groups that came out of groups once led by the late Garner Ted Armstrong (ICG, CGI, CEM, etc.) do not seem to teach that there is a physical place of safety (despite what Revelation 12:14-16 teaches), hence they will not be inclined to flee towards one just prior to the start of the Great Tribulation (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra).
- Most ‘independents’ do not believe that they need to ‘gather together’ prior to the time to flee despite what Zephaniah 2:1-3 teaches, hence it is not likely they will be inclined to flee together when a group they are not part of does just prior to the start of the Great Tribulation (cf. Revelation 12:14-17; see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra).
- At least one group (PCG) misunderstands the final Prince of Rosh. Those who insist on a pre-return of Jesus Christ for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38 will be disappointed as that is in scriptural error.
- At least one COG group (CG7) basically teaches that most of the events of Revelation have already taken place and no one needs to worry about coming persecution. Jesus warned those of Sardis to be careful about losing the doctrinal understandings they had (Revelation 3:1-6), and this loss of prophetic knowledge proves that those in Sardis will not know when the Great Tribulation will begin.
- At least one COG group (LCG) erroneously believes that the abomination of desolation of Daniel 11:31 occurs after the King of the North invades the King of the South (Daniel 11:40-43; see PCG and LCG do not understand the end-time King of the South sequence–do you?). Since this will not happen that way, those who hold to that position will not understand when the Great Tribulation will begin.
- At least one group (RCG) totally misunderstands various prophecies in Haggai and Zechariah and expect a type of reunification that is not prophesied. Those who rely on this and other misinterpretations will not know when the Great Tribulation will begin.
- At least one group (LCG) erroneously teaches that the ‘Falling Away’ warned about in 2 Thessalonians 2 has mainly to do with the world and Protestants and not the Church of God (see The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings). This improper emphasis seems to be leading to a falling away of certain prophetic understandings for those who hold to it.
- Some groups teach (RCG, UCG, COGWA, LCG) that the man of sin who sits in the temple of God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) is the Antichrist, not the Beast of the Sea. Yet, it is this Beast of the Sea, the final King of the North (Daniel 11:35-36; see also Who is the Man of Sin?). So, when this happens, those who hold to the wrong position will not understand its prophetic ramifications. The identity of the ‘son of perdition’ is important to understand in the end times.
- At least one group teaches that the ‘man of sin’ is Joseph Tkach, Jr. (PCG). This absurd position also partially leads to many other misunderstandings.
- A few teach that a Jewish temple in Jerusalem temple will be rebuilt before Jesus returns (CBCG, RCG, COGFF, CEG, and TPM teach this, as do some in LCG). While this is remotely possible it is not required (the “temple of God” in the New Testament has to do with a Christian, not a modern Jewish, location; see Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?). Since this will not happen as a few sometimes teach, those who hold to that position will not understand when the Great Tribulation will begin.
- At least two groups (PCG and LCG) teach that the Beast power will consist of 10 or 11 current nations in the European Union (see Must the Ten Kings of Revelation 17:12 Rule over Ten Currently Existing Nations?). The European Union has 28 nation members with several others hoping to join it. And while it may lose nations, the reality is that if the Beast power rises up when there are more than 11 nations in it, those who hold to that position will not understand when the Great Tribulation will begin. Under Herbert Armstrong, the old WCG taught in at least a dozen documents (Plain Truth, Good News, Tomorrow’s World, booklets, Co-worker letter, Bible Correspondence Course) that this passage referred to 10 nations or GROUPS OF NATIONS. Presuming it will be another number of nations, those who insist on 10 or 11 will not realize when the Great Tribulation will begin.
- At least one group (CBCG) teaches that the ten kings are to be in charge of ten regions around the world as opposed to being a primarily European power. Insistence upon this would mean that such a group could not possibly understand when the Great Tribulation would begin.
- At least two groups seem to teach that the first verse in the Daniel 11 sequence relating to the beginning of the Great Tribulation is Daniel 11:40 (LCG does this in its Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, whereas PCG does it elsewhere. Instead they should teach that it begins with Daniel 11:39 (see also USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses), which is shortly after Daniel 11:31, which is also consistent with the start of the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7; see also Who is the King of the North?). Those who hold to the Daniel 11:40 position will not understand when the Great Tribulation will begin.
- The leader of at least one group (GOI, James Malm) has claimed that the Great Tribulation could begin within a year for the last 6 or so years. Since it does not recognize why this is in error, it will not truly know when the Great Tribulation will begin.
- Some independents and some groups (PCG comes to mind) insist that the late Herbert W. Armstrong was the final ‘Elijah to come’ even though that contradicts scripture and Herbert Armstrong’s own writings (see The Elijah Heresies).
- Leaders of at least two groups (CGPFK and RCG), who once insisted publicly that Herbert Armstrong must be the final Elijah, now falsely claim that they hold that role.
- Some groups either do not believe there is an Elijah to come (CGI comes to mind) or do not believe he needs to be a person (LCG comes to mind).
- At least one group has confused the final Elijah with the return of Jesus (LCG comes to mind).
- At least one group has publicly claimed that God has no prophets today and will not have any until the two witnesses are empowered (LCG comes to mind). This downplays how God works (cf. Ephesians 2:20) and that the Bible teaches, ” Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7) (see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God).
- At least one group (CGG) teaches that the Beast power is not European. Since the Beast power will arise in Europe, those who do not understand this will not realize when the Great Tribulation is about to begin (see also Europa, the Beast, and the Book of Revelation).
- At least one group (LCG) teaches that the European Union will collapse like the old Roman Empire. But the lessons of history and the Bible contradict that (details are in the article Must the Ten Kings of Revelation 17:12 Rule over Ten Currently Existing Nations?).
Some will come up with their preferred rational as why not to agree with the position of the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) on these matters. Yet not only are they biblical, it should be noted that leaders in the Living Church of God and/or the United Church of God confirmed to me personally that I was biblically correct on all the above points, despite the fact that their respective churches hold to several of the errors pointed out above. Those who rely too much on a compromised ministry (Ezekiel 34:7-10) to teach them prophecy that is not truly in accordance with scripture need to realize that according to Jesus’ words in Revelation 2 & 3 and Luke 21, only relatively few Christians will be protected from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole world.
As Norman Edward’s article points out, it is scriptural to now have prophets according to the New Testament. But many who truly believe that they live by the word of God have discounted or overlooked what the Bible actually teaches and/or have been influenced by others who have done the same or worse. The COG has at least one demonstrably true prophet today, yet most in the greater COG world seem to be able to ignore the truth about that, like most ignored John the Baptist and others in their day.
An even more detailed article about prophets in the Church of God is How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God. That article not only has scriptures, it also has historical COG writings that should help people who will believe the truth to be able to see the truth.
In January 2013, I also gave a sermon titled How to determine if someone is a true prophet of God and it is available at the ContinuingCOG YouTube channel. Some may also find it of interest.
Some items of possibly related interest may include:
How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God There are many false prophets, yet many overlook what the Bible teaches about how to recognize a true one. How can Christians determine who is a true prophet? This article contains a scripture-based checklist to assist with this determination.
How to determine if someone is a true prophet of God This is a sermon on YouTube addressing a subject that most in the Church of God do not seem to have looked into very much. It discusses scriptures and dispels some improper assertions that some associated with the COG have made about prophets in this time.
Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God How has God used dreams in the past? Does God still use dreams? Did He use any involving those in the Continuing Church of God? Here is a link in Spanish: Sueños, la Biblia, la Iglesia de Dios de la Radio, y la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. A related sermon is also available: Dreams, COGs, and One Man Rule.
Elijah: Past and Prophesied Information about the original Elijah and some information about the Elijah-related prophecies.
The Elijah Heresies Does the Bible teach that there will be a future Elijah? Must it be Herbert W. Armstrong?
Why Be Concerned About False and Heretical Leaders? There have been many false leaders–here is some of why you should be concerned about them.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots. They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent. One video of related interest is 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy.
Who Are The Two Witnesses? What is their job? What does the Bible reveal? What has the Church of God taught on this subject? Might even Roman Catholic prophecies give some clues here?
The Final Phase of the Work What is the final phase of the work? Who will lead it? Do you have the courage to support it? Here is a related YouTube video titled The Final Phase of the Work. The written article has been translated into Spanish La Fase Final de la Obra.
The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government What form of governance did the early church have? Was it hierarchical? Which form of governance would one expect to have in the Philadelphia remnant? The people decide and/or committee forms, odd dictatorships, or the same type that the Philadelphia era itself had? What are some of the scriptural limits on ecclesiastical authority? Do some commit organizational idolatry? Here is a Spanish language version La Biblia, Policarpo, Herbert W. Armstrong, y Roderick C. Meredith sobre el gobierno de la Iglesia. Here is a link to a sermon titled Church Governance.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. To see how CCOG has done so far, here is a sermon Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? Here is a written link to a version of that sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?
CCOG.ASIA We in the Continuing Church of God also have the url www.ccog.asia which has a focus on Asia and has various articles in Mandarin Chinese as well as some in English, plus some items in other Asian languages. 我们在继续神的教会也提供此网址 www.ccog.asia, 关注于亚洲并且有各种各样的中英文文章，其中一些用菲律宾语翻译的文章也正在进行中，准备添加到这个网站中。
CCOG.IN This is a website targeted towards those of Indian heritage. It has a link to an edited Hindi translation of The Mystery of the Ages and is expected to have more non-English language materials in the future.
CCOG.EU This is a website targeted toward Europe. It has materials in more than one language (currently it has English, Dutch, and Serbian, with links also to Spanish) and it is intended to have additional language materials added.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.