UCG President Asks “What’s Ahead for the Church of God”?

Ancient Laodicea


Dennis Luker, the President of the United Church of God, just had a new letter posted.  Here is some of what it included:

October 28, 2010

Dear Brethren,

What’s ahead for the Church of God?…Brethren, do we today choose life?…

What are we to do in this delivered state? When we are reconciled to God through the sacrifice of Christ, what is our role? The dual mission of the United Church of God—based directly on the Word of God—makes it clear: We are to be dedicated to preaching the precious gospel of the coming Kingdom of God, and we are to be daily—minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour—preparing ourselves to serve for all eternity under Jesus Christ Himself!…

Consider this critical spiritual fact: Even as we believe ourselves to be seeking and doing the will of God, we can inadvertently fall under the powerful but subtle influence of our adversary and begin to deceive ourselves. Unless we are truly humble, we can fall prey to wrong thinking and not even be aware of it…

Let us all—individually and collectively—choose life, that we may all live and that our Church may accomplish its purpose, according to the good and perfect will of God.

Thank you, brethren, for your continued prayers and for asking God to direct and guide all of us! All of the dedicated ministers and employees here at the home office in Cincinnati send their greetings and love to all of you.

By Church of God, President Luker apparently is referring to his own group, the United Church of God,  and perhaps by extension the other COG groups that are not part of the Philadelphian remnant.

In my view, President Luker really never answered the question he started off with, but he may think that he had.

So let me try.

What’s ahead for the the Church of God?

The Book of Revelation shows that there will be remnant parts of four Churches of God at the time of the end.  These are Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.  It would biblically seem that those that are actually part of the Church of God, but are not actually Philadelphian, are almost all in the Thyatira, Sardis, and/or Laodicea churches.  Those Laodiceans are essentially the offspring that came out of the Philadelphia Church.

The Philadelphian portion of the COG will be the main ones that fulfill Matthew 24:14 and the end till come.

It seems biblically clear that the Laodicean, Sardisian, and Thyatiran churches will continue to be less than highly effective in getting Christ’s gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness.  They will have various organizational and doctrinal issues.

Prior to the time of the Great Tribulation, the Philadelphians will endure persecution, and some persecution will affect the non-Philadelphian groups (Matthew 24:9; Daniel 11:28-35).

The presiding evangelist of the Living Church of God (LCG), R.C. Meredith of the Living Church of God publicly has taught:

We will be persecuted before the Great Tribulation…We will be persecuted from time to time…But the Laodiceans will have it worse during the Great Tribulation (Meredith RC. Prophecy Overview. Sermon, July 19, 2008).

Just prior to the actual start of the Great Tribulation, when its time to flee, the Christians that are not Philadelphian will not go to a place of safety for various reasons.  Yet, the Philadelphians will, as they will be kept from the hour of trial (Revelation 3:10).

During the Great Tribulation, most of the non-Philadelphians will likely be killed (cf. Daniel 7:21,25; 12:7).  But they and the Philadelphians will have works.

The Philadelphians will somehow continue their work of warning the world about the Greco- Roman European power that they were doing prior to fleeing and being protected.

During the time that the Philadelphians are protected, they themselves will most likely also continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

While some may not consider that to be an important work, the truth is that God has called some now in order to serve both now and in the future   Growing in grace and knowledge NOW is an essential part of the work.

The Bible gives a clue about some of the future service that the Philadelphians will be providing while in its place of protection:

19 I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles (Isaiah 66:19).

Doesn’t this sound like those that go who escaped to the place of protection in the wilderness will preach the Gospel once they leave it?  Is it then logical that those that were allowed to escape and go to this place were mainly those who placed their top emphasis on proclaiming the true Gospel, prior to escaping?

It seems that perhaps the reason that the Philadelphians are protected is because they are currently doing the work and will do a type of work in the place of safety.

What about the remnants of the churches in Revelation 2 & 3?

Perhaps I should add that I believe that all four groups will have people who will support the two witnesses (see Who Are The Two Witnesses?).

Yet, notice what happens to many those that follow the non-Philadelphians in the end:

18 Thyatira…23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts (Revelation 2:18,23).

1 Sardis…3 Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you (Revelation 3:1,3).

14 Laodiceans… 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent (Revelation 3:14,19).

There is a difference for the Philadelphians who were not deceived into following false or heretical teachings:

7 Philadelphia…10 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 (Revelation 3:7,10).

While it is possible that some in the Thyatira, Sardis, and/or Laodicea churches may more properly repent, only the Philadelphians are promised protection from the great tribulation, “the hour of trial”.

That is another reason that understanding church eras, including their remnants, is important.  And that is something that officially, at least, UCG has lost.

But What is the Work of Laodicea During the Tribulation?

Jesus condemns the Church of the Laodiceans because they have a work that is lukewarm and not one that is cold or hot (Revelation 3:14-16).  All the Churches of Revelation 2 & 3, except Smyrna (which has died out) and Philadelphia (a portion of which remains) are all criticized for their work and/or behavior. Many had a lukewarmness towards the work.

This lukewarmness towards the work of God, while existing to some degree, by some throughout history, became more prevalent after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong in 1986.

Over time, it has become clearer and clearer who were representing the gospel proclaiming, faithful Philadelphians, and who choose to have differing types of Laodicean works.

Although people associated with them seem to be pleased with these lukewarm works, Christ clearly is not (Revelation 3:14-16).

During the tribulation, the Laodiceans and others, remnants of Thyatira and Sardis will become more fully involved in the work of God whether or not they know that now.  Some will be hot, persecuted and probably martyred while others will be cold, denying the faith.

Notice that Satan the dragon will unleash persecution against that part of the true Church that is not protected:

17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17).

So, during this time, the work of Laodicea, Sardis, and Thyatira will essentially show that they can still keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.  That will be part of the “patience of the saints” (Revelation 14:12).  But it will be very difficult to go through the Great Tribulation.

Many long time UCG supporters are concerned about what is happening with UCG.  Some are disillusioned, while others are having doubts.

Yet, all real Christians who are alive and not part of the Philadelphia remnant will go into the Great Tribulation.  A time much more troubling than what UCG has gone through this year.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Roderick C. Meredith 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?
Unity: Which COG for You? Why so many groups? Why is there lack of unity in the Churches of God? Has it always been this way? What can/should be done about it?
Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God This article provides quotes information from the two largest groups which had their origins in WCG as well as commentary.
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 evangelists?
There are Many COGs: Why Support the Living Church of God? This is an article for those who wish to more easily sort out the different COGs. It really should be a MUST READ for current and former WCG/GCI members or any interested in supporting the faithful church. It also explains a lot of what the COGs are all about.
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3.
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
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 basically the Living Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. These are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.
Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer.
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory.

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