PCG claims: ‘Four Signs the Second Coming Is Near’

January 2019 cover of the Philadelphia Trumpet


Joel Hilliker, of the group calling itself the Philadelphia Church of God (PCG), wrote the following for the January 2019 edition of the Philadelphia Trumpet magazine, which was also the lead article at the Trumpet’s website this morning:

Weapons of mass destruction. An end-time Elijah. The true gospel preached around the world. The true Church splitting apart. These are four signs of Jesus Christ’s return that God inspired to be recorded and miraculously preserved in the Bible for 2,000 years. Today, they have all been fulfilled! These four specific signs, along with many others, show for certain that Jesus Christ is not just going to return, but He is going to return soon.

PCG is correct that there are weapons of mass destruction, that Jesus will return soon, and that a massive falling away has occurred. On that last subject, check out the article: The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings.

But PCG is wrong about its position on the Elijah and the fulfillment of the preaching the gospel.

Regarding “Elijah,” Joel Hilliker’s article states:

When Jesus Christ returns, He will restore all things to the whole world (Acts 3:19-21). Yet He Himself said that this “Elijah” would restore all things. How would that be possible? Because God would use this individual to restore all things, the truth of the Bible, to God’s Church.

So Jesus Christ Himself said that He would return in power and glory to rule all nations. He said that prior to His return, there would come a dreadful “Day of the Lord.” He said that before that day, there would come a man like Elijah. He said this man would restore all things—meaning all foundational biblical doctrines—to His Church. But very few Christians even attempt to explain this prophecy, even though it was spoken by Jesus Christ Himself!

Yet there was a man in the 20th century who taught this prophecy toward the end of his 57-year ministry. He had started out not as a seminarian but as a businessman largely uninterested in religion. Through circumstances and forces beyond his control, he was brought to an intensive study of the Bible and then a penetrating repentance. There he found numerous scriptural teachings that directly contradicted the doctrines of mainstream Christianity: why God made human beings, the nature of God, why God made angels, the origins of the devil and demons, the weekly day of worship, what really happens after death, the meaning of the biblically mandated festivals, the true gospel, why God allows suffering, the purpose for the Church, ancient Israel’s modern identity, the key to Bible prophecy, and a host of others. These doctrines can be proved from the Bible, they fit together with each other, and they match what Jesus Christ and the disciples had taught.

This man was Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986). He reestablished biblical doctrines that had been lost to Christianity for centuries. He proclaimed a strong warning to the modern descendants of the ancient Israelites, much like the Prophet Elijah had done 3,000 years ago. Toward the end of his life, he recognized that the fruits of his ministry had fulfilled Jesus Christ’s prophecy of an end-time type of Elijah.

Herbert W. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah. This is a bold statement to make: I challenge you to prove it for yourself. You can find far more information proving this truth by reading our new booklet on the subject: A Pivotal Sign of the End Time.

The coming of an Elijah who would “restore all things” is indeed a pivotal sign that we are in the end time. Just like the sign of weapons of mass destruction, this sign of an Elijah was given by Jesus Christ Himself. And, just like that sign, this one has already occurred!

No, according to the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong, he was NOT the final Elijah.

Herbert W. Armstrong did claim to restore at least 18 (see 18 Truths Restored to the Churches of God: Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era), but he never claimed to have restored all things.

Could Herbert W. Armstrong have been the Elijah to come (Matthew 17; Malachi 4)?

Let’s start with Malachi 4:5-6, but as shown in the Jewish Publication Society translation:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet

Before the coming Of the great and terrible day of the LORD.
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children,
And the heart of the children to their fathers;
Lest I come and smite the land with utter destruction.

Notice that the Elijah is to come just before the great and terrible day of the LORD, and if he did not come, utter destruction would occur.

Herbert W. Armstrong died in January 16, 1986.

Now let’s see what Herbert W. Armstrong actually wrote about the timing of the final Elijah:

Also Malachi 4:5-6 pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age (Mystery of the Ages. 1985, p. 349).

When did Herbert W. Armstrong write that the Church age was over? Notice:

At the end of the Church age and 6,000 years from Adam, Christ would return to earth as King of kings and Lord of Lords, ruling all nations, with the saints, for one millennium. (Armstrong HW. What If Adam Had Taken of the Tree of Life? Plan Truth, March 1983)

The “very end” of the Church age was not over nearly 33 years ago! The 6000 years has NOT yet been fulfilled (see also Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?). Since the “very end of the Church age” has not happened, and Herbert W. Armstrong died decades ago, his writings support that there must be another Elijah. And he was referring to an individual in the Mystery of the Ages.

That being said, sometimes Herbert W. Armstrong did think that he may have fulfilled the Elijah role, but he told the late Dibar Apartian (who told me) that he was NOT the Elijah. Furthermore, essentially on his deathbed, Herbert W. Armstrong admitted to his closest aide, Aaron Dean (who told me this multiple times) that there could be an Elijah to come after he died (see also The Elijah Heresies).

This combined with what Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in The Mystery of the Ages and the length of time since his death demonstrates that Herbert W. Armstrong could not biblically be the final prophesied Elijah.

Since the Bible does teach that there will be an ‘Elijah’ who is alive right before Jesus returns (Malachi 4:5-6),  it is not possible that Herbert W. Armstrong was the prophesied final Elijah.

Now, presuming Jesus will return within the next couple of decades, then that ‘Elijah’ would need to be alive now. And he would be part of the church that places the highest priority on the truth.

Yet, most Christians seemingly refuse to accept that.

We in the Continuing Church of God are regularly restoring more truth about church history, doctrine, and prophecy. And we have done this more, by far, than any other group in the 21st century (COG or otherwise for that matter).

Was that supposed to happen?


Notice something that Daniel wrote:

4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)

Consider also the admonition of the Apostle Peter:

18 … grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)

Also consider that any who have already died are not relevant regarding all things to be restored just before the Day of the Lord–only one alive then (who would also be alive now) can possibly fulfill the Elijah role to increase knowledge and restore all things. It is not that others cannot add to knowledge, but what was to be restored in the end has to come from someone who is a real follower of God who is alive at the end. Growth of Christian knowledge did not end by January 16, 1986.

Consider also that the Bible indicates that it is likely that the ‘Elijah’ will be one of the two witnesses.

In the old Radio Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

The Two Witnesses

Who are, or will be, these witnesses? …

1st, they “prophesy” or preach a final warning to the world during “1260 days.” …

2nd, at the END of their testimony…it is “the BEAST THAT ASCENDED OUT OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT” which kills them. …

3rd, after their testimony is ended, and they have been killed and resurrected, it says in verse 14 “the second woe is past.” …

They do the works of Moses and Elijah. …

John the Baptist was NOT Elijah as he plainly said, yet he came in the power and spirit of Elijah, and in that sense he wau Elijah. Compare John 1:22, Mat. 11:14, and the explanation in Luke 1:17. So it is likely the two witnesses will be two men who come in the power and spirit of Elijah and Moses or Enoch. (Armstrong HW. What is going to happen! Plain Truth, June-July 1934, p. 7)

Herbert Armstrong gave a speech in May 1967, in which he said the following:

“Verse 3: God will empower His two ‘witnesses’ to proclaim God’s truth for this three-and-one-half years, from the same city of Jerusalem. These two have the same powers that God had given to Moses and Elijah. That is why this Führer and his armies can not stop them. So they will be two men coming ‘in the power and spirit’ of Moses and Elijah – just as John the Baptist came in the ‘power and spirit’ of Elijah, though he was not Elijah.

“Now notice particularly verses 9 and 10: Evidently they shall not be merely speaking to a few people on a street corner – but broadcasting WORLDWIDE! (Armstrong HW. Personal from the Editor. Plain Truth, June 1967, p. 4).

Verse 3, that Herbert Armstrong alluded to, specifically states that the two witnesses will prophesy, as they are prophets:

3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3)

Herbert Armstrong later wrote that he was NOT a prophet:

I have definitely NOT been called to be a PROPHET (Armstrong H. Personal from the Editor, The 19 Year Time Cycles. The Good News of Tomorrow’s World. February, 1972, p. 1).

Since Herbert Armstrong was not a prophet, Elijah was a prophet (1 Kings 18:36), the Elijah to come is to be a prophet (Malachi 4:5), and the two witnesses will be prophets, Herbert W. Armstrong was not the Elijah to come.

When Herbert W. Armstrong was directing it, the old Worldwide Church of God (WCG) taught:

These two witnesses are two human beings who are given extraordinary power for 3 1/2 years just prior to Christ’s return (verse 3). If any man attempts to hurt them before their ministry is up, “…fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies” (verse 5). Note how similar this is to the power given to Elijah (II Kings 1:9-15). They also have power over the rainfall, to produce drought and famine as did Elijah (Luke 4:25; I Kings 17:1-7), and to smite the earth with plagues (Rev. 11:6). Their mission will be to give one final warning (Armstrong HW, editor. The Plain Truth Personal Correspondence Department response on the two witnesses to Mr. and Mrs. Thiel. September 13, 1984).

Herbert Armstrong was NOT one of the two witnesses.

Sadly, just as many would not hear Elijah’s nor John the Baptist’s messages, relatively few will pay much attention to the end time Elijah as well.

That is not a surprise as most Christians in the end times were to be Laodicean, and Jesus warned the Laodiceans since they would not ‘get with the program,’ that they would be punished (Revelation 3:14-18).

Of course, if you are willing to believe the truth and do what the Bible teaches, that does not have to include you.

Joel Hilliker also wrote:

Sign Three

In Matthew 24, Jesus Christ gave more signs of what would occur before His return. Among these descriptions, one statement flashes like a lightning bolt: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (verse 14). …

But in the 20th century, a time of increasing dangers and weapons of mass destruction, God used an end-time Elijah to restore all things—including the gospel message of the Kingdom of God. That man preached the same gospel that Jesus Christ preached—and did so “in all the world for a witness” for the first time in almost 2,000 years! Herbert W. Armstrong preached that message to tens of thousands of members of the Worldwide Church of God, to millions of World Tomorrow radio listeners and television viewers, and to millions of Plain Truth readers.

He wrote in a Sept. 17, 1982, letter to Church supporters, “Jesus’s sign we are near the end of this world (Matthew 24:14), which you have backed me in proclaiming to the world—the gospel of the Kingdom of God—has been going to the world in great power!”

Yes, Herbert W. Armstrong reached many. But notice that, according to Jesus, the end comes when Matthew 24:14 has been fulfilled (to God’s satisfaction).

Well, the end, meaning the Great Tribulation in this context (cf. Matthew 24:14-21) has not begun, and cannot begin for at least 3 1/2 more years (see When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? and/or watch Might the Great Tribulation start in 2019?).

So, while PCG is correct that humanity has weapons that will be used in the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22) and that a massive falling away has happened (2 Thessalonians 2:3; see also The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings), PCG is wrong on the other two points.

The end has not yet come.

Therefore, Herbert W. Armstrong could not have possibly been the final Elijah (see also The Elijah Heresies) and Matthew 24:14 has not yet been fulfilled (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?).

That being said, we in the Continuing Church of God are regularly restoring more truth, while we are reaching people around the world and preparing for the short-work (Romans 9:28; see also Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word), because Jesus will be coming relatively soon.

It is just that on at least two points in Joel Hilliker’s article, the so titled Philadelphia Church of God is wrong.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The Elijah Heresies Does the Bible teach that there will be a future Elijah? Must it be Herbert W. Armstrong? Two related sermons are available Elijah: Prophecies and Heresies and Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong, and CCOG.
Teachings Unique to the Philadelphia Church of God Simply calling oneself ‘Philadelphia’ does not make one so (see Revelation 3:7-9), nor does Gerald Flurry calling himself “that prophet” make it so. This article provides many quotes from this group which tries to look faithful.
Elijah: Past and Prophesied Information about the original Elijah and some information about the Elijah-related prophecies.
The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings Who is 2 Thessalonians 2:3 referring to? Are there multiple falling aways? Here is a related link in Spanish/español: La Apostasía: Enseñanzas de la Biblia y de la WCG. There are also two YouTube videos on the subject that you can watch The Falling Away Part 1: From the Bible and Church History and The Falling Away Part 2: Positions Presented by Others.
The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made? Some have said healing, others other subjects, but probably the first change had to do with eliminating being part of the Philadelphia era. This article documents what those changes were and compares the Tkach list of restored truths to Herbert W. Armstrong’s list of restored truths as well as his Autobiography. This article contains many quotes from Herbert W. Armstrong. Here are links to a related two-part sermon: The 18 Restored Truths: 1-8 and The 18 Restored Truths: 9-18.
18 Truths Restored to the Churches of God: Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era Herbert W. Armstrong wrote that he felt he had restored at least 18 lost truths to the Church, here is Herbert W. Armstrong’s list given 12/17/83. This articles also has links to show that these truths were believed by professors of Christ in earlier times, hence they were not some invention of Herbert Armstrong.Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Lista de Herbert W. Armstrong de las 18 verdades restauradas. As far as the mission goes, here is a link to a sermon: Mission of the Remnant of the Philadelphia Church Era. Here are links to a related two-part sermon: The 18 Restored Truths: 1-8 and The 18 Restored Truths: 9-18.
Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End? Was a 6000 year time allowed for humans to rule followed by a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth taught by the early Christians? Does God have 7,000 year plan? What year may the six thousand years of human rule end? When will Jesus return? 2027 or 20xx? There is also a video titled 6000 Years: When will God’s Kingdom Come? Here is a link to the article in Spanish: ¿Tiene Dios un plan de 6,000 años?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2019, 2020, or 2021? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2018 o 2019? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter and newer video is: Might the Great Tribulation start in 2019?
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.
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.
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?
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? Some say the Church should mainly feed the flock now as that is what Herbert W. Armstrong reportedly said. Is that what he said? Is that what the Bible says? What did Paul and Herbert W. Armstrong expect from lower level leaders? Two related sermons are available The Work per HWA and the Bible and Priority of the Philadelphia Work.
Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word What is the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28? Who is preparing for it? Here is a link to a related video sermon titled: The Short Work.
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.
Leading the Final Phase of the Work Matthew 24:14 teaches “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come ” will be fulfilled and RCG is not the group doing this. Who is leading the final phase of the work? What did Herbert Armstrong and the old WCG teach about that and about prophets? Does Bob Thiel meet the criteria that the Bible and the old WCG set? What is the proof? What has the Continuing Church of God been doing?  This is a sermonette length video.
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。 Here is a link to our Statement of Beliefs in Mandarin Chinese 继续神的教会的信仰声明.
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 has other Indian language translations of certain CCOG literature.
CCOG.EU This is a website targeted towards Europe. It has materials in multiple European languages.
CCOG.NZ This is a website targeted towards New Zealand and others with a British-descended background.
CCOGCANADA.CA This is a website targeted towards those in Canada.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God and has articles in español/castellano.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
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.
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.

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