Being Separate: What Did Herbert Armstrong and The Bible Teach About Where Not To Fellowship?
by COGwriter

Since the death of Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) and the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), some have been confused about where they should fellowship. This article will show some of the scriptural warnings about where one should not fellowship as well as some comments about historical Church of God practices.

What Herbert W. Armstrong Taught

Many who attended the WCG, who also claim to be faithful to the teachings of WCG under HWA's leadership, have failed to recall what HWA himself taught about this in the May 1960 Good News article titled Should We Listen to Others?:

"HOW does God say we must worship Him?  You see signs and slogans in the world to this effect:  “Let every man worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.”  But that is contrary to God’s instruction.

To a woman of the world, Jesus said: “Ye worship ye know not what.”  Then He said:  “God is a SPIRIT:  and they that worship Him must worship Him in SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH.”  (John 4:22,24).  God will not accept worship “according to the dictates of man’s conscience.”  To be acceptable to Him you MUST worship Him in SPIRIT—that is, you must have within you His Holy Spirit, which He gives only to them that OBEY Him (Acts 5:32) and you must worship Him IN TRUTH.  What is TRUTH?  Jesus said “Thy Word is truth.”  You must worship Him according to the BIBLE!

With whom are we to have FELLOWSHIP?

The Apostle John, in his first letter, declared God’s TRUTH in order “that ye also may have fellowship with us…” showing we can have fellowship ONLY with those who know and obey the TRUTH…

YOU are to have fellowship only with those who know and obey the TRUTH!...

Our fellowship is, first of all, WITH God the Father, and WITH Jesus Christ!  If I have fellowship with Christ, and YOU have fellowship with Christ, then He joins you and me together in fellowship.  You can not have true Christian fellowship with any, except those who also have fellowship with God the Father and with Christ.

But WHO does have fellowship with God? Just anybody?  Members of worldly churches?  LISTEN!  “If we say that we have fellowship with HIM, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the TRUTH: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light (truth), we have fellowship one with another.”  (Verses 6-7).

Brethren, that narrows fellowship—assembling together for worship—down to ONLY those who are in God’s TRUTH—the true LIGHT—and who OBEY it.  And that means ONLY those whom God has, by His Holy Spirit, put into HIS TRUE CHURCH.  We are barred from fellowship or worship with any others…

We must have fellowship only with Jesus Christ, and those who are joined together in the TRUTH—all speaking the same TRUTH.

Now suppose you try to find fellowship with members of a Seventh Day Adventist church.  They may worship on the right day, but they do not keep God’s annual Sabbaths and Festivals; they do not proclaim the true Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD which is to rule THE EARTH for the millennium; they do not believe we are to be actually born into the divine, glorified FAMILY or Kingdom of God; and they do break the second Commandment with their many idolatrous pictures of a long-haired man they falsely call “Christ”; they do believe lies and errors, such as their “Sanctuary Question,”  “Investigative Judgment,” Mrs. White’s inspiration as God’s “Prophet”; going to heaven, etc., etc.

Suppose you try to find fellowship with Baptists, Church of Christ, Methodists.  They believe in the immortality of the soul—if they have not gone “Modernist”—they do not OBEY God’s Law and therefore cannot have His Holy Spirit.  There is no basis whatsoever for fellowship with them.  They are deceived and carnal.  They are of the UNFRUITFUL WORKS OF DARKNESS!

God commands you:  “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship have righteousness (keeping of God’s Commandments) with unrighteousness? And what communion have LIGHT (TRUTH) with darkness?...WHEREFORE COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, AND BE YE SEPARATE, SAITH THE LORD.”  (II Cor. 6:14-17)…

We are not to have social or religious FELLOWSHIP—close friendship—with any except those who know and OBEY the TRUTH.  We must not try to WORSHIP with them—attend their churches…

Again God instructs through Paul:  “Have NO FELLOWSHIP with the unfruitful works of darkness.” (Eph. 5:11)…

Now LISTEN TO GOD’S TEACHING!

The Apostle Paul, speaking his farewell to the elders of the large Church of God at Ephesus, said:

“I know this, that after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  (Acts 20:29-30).

THAT DID HAPPEN IN THAT CHURCH!

The greatest danger of all is when one who is among us, supposed to be one of us, approaches you with some doctrine or interpretation CONTRARY to that of God’s Church, and of God’s ministers.

Whether it be a so-called “Jehovah Witness” or even one supposedly a member of God’s own Church, remember THIS COMMAND:

“If there Come ANY unto you”—it does not say member of another church—it says if ANY come unto you—“and bring not this doctrine, RECEIVE HIM NOT INTO YOUR HOUSE…”—DON’T LISTEN TO HIM!"

The Seventh Day Adventists

The preceding quote for HWA is quite interesting, especially since he mentioned the Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs).

Why?

Because the SDA Church initially had some individuals who had been exposed to a lot of truth that they later lost. Like the Tkachs, Mr. and Mrs. White gained control and authority in what could have been a COG in what appeared to be the proper way.

(The reason I say 'appeared' was that, for example, in the case of WCG, Joseph Tkach Sr. assured HWA that he would not change doctrine, and HWA would have never appointed him if he thought that Joseph Tkach would have done what he ended up doing--Joseph Tkach gained his position by 'intrigue', which is something that both the Bible {Daniel 11:34} and HWA's COG taught against {Beware of False Brethren. Good News. January 1961}. In the case of the Whites, they appeared to sincerely hold some COG doctrinal positions, but they too made a variety of changes, though slower than the Tkachs).

Thus, HWA specifically taught that just because some group was once part of the COG (as the SDAs had been), that had an apparent proper transfer in leadership (like the SDAs did), and even continued to have services on the Sabbath (which the SDAs do to this day), that according to HWA,

God commands you:  “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship have righteousness (keeping of God’s Commandments) with unrighteousness? And what communion have LIGHT (TRUTH) with darkness?...WHEREFORE COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, AND BE YE SEPARATE, SAITH THE LORD.”  (II Cor. 6:14-17).

And why?

HWA wrote about the SDAs,

...they do not proclaim the true Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD which is to rule THE EARTH for the millennium; they do not believe we are to be actually born into the divine, glorified FAMILY or Kingdom of God; and they do break the second Commandment with their many idolatrous pictures of a long-haired man they falsely call “Christ”; they do believe lies and errors, such as their “Sanctuary Question,”  “Investigative Judgment,” Mrs. White’s inspiration as God’s “Prophet”; going to heaven.

The current WCG is guilty of all but three of the last four of those things, and, unlike the SDAs, actually advocates lawlessness (the SDAs at least officially teach that Christians are to keep the ten commandments, something that WCG no longer teaches). (An article of related interest may be 666 and the Beast: How the SDAs Differ from the COG).

HWA Also Taught

Here is some of what it states in the HWA authorized booklet The True History of the True Church,

The true Church is not some POLITICALLY ORGANIZED DENOMINATION which one joins or becomes a member of in order to be "saved." Jesus did not die for some one religious ORGANIZATION called a church.

Hence HWA did not feel that the true Church was a particular organization or denomination.

Herbert Armstrong claimed God used him to restore 18 truths to the Philadelphia era of the COG (Mystery of the Ages, Dodd & Mead, 1985, p. 251). In a sermon where he listed them he stated,

Then the great deception, the counterfeit of Revelation 17:5, Babylon, the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, her daughter churches and who they are...And the fact that Satan, the devil, has deceived the whole world. Brethren, Satan is the one who is guilty. Those people in the Catholic Church and the Protestant churches have been deceived. And I think they really believe. God just hasn't opened any more truth to them. We don't sit in judgment of them. We're not judging them YET. We're going to do it and when WE judge them, then all truth will be opened and God will take away the blindness from their eyes so they can understand if they're willing. Today they couldn't understand it, even if they're willing. I don’t think they're willing, either, as far as that goes.And how in Revelation 18:4 that God has called us out from among them, to be separate. Well, brethren, all those things have been restored and there is a mission for this Church that never applied, and has never been done by any other Church (Armstrong HW. Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era. Sermon, December 17, 1983).

It may be of interest to note that the Tkach administration left those truths (Satan deceives the whole world; that the Catholic Church represents Babylon the Great, with the Protestants as its daughters; and that true Christians are to be separate) out of ITS list of the 18 restored truths (as shown in its article, God restored these 18 truths: How thankful are you for them? Worldwide News, August 25, 1986).

All with ears to hear should realize that when WCG joined the Evangelical Association years ago, it declared that is was not separate, did not believe the professing Christian world was deceived, and declared itself Protestant--a clear repudiation of the last three truths that Herbert Armstrong said he restored.

Herbert Armstrong separated himself from the Church of God, Seventh Day (CG7) because one of their leaders stated that HWA was correct on parts of two of the restored truths (listed as numbers 3 and 13 above), but that CG7 would not teach them, plus they were not truly into preaching the gospel as a witness--he was not put out of CG7 until about a decade AFTER he left them (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, 1973 ed.). There is no way that HWA would have tolerated the repudiation of all these restored truths by J. Tkach, Jr. and remain part of WCG. Or remain associated with any group that was not active in proclaiming the gospel as a witness.

How can one send tithes and offerings to or even attend such a group? Those who claim to be faithful to the teachings of Herbert Armstrong and who are still affiliated with WCG need to carefully (and prayerfully) study those last three restored truths and separate themselves. To do otherwise, is a clear contradiction--YOU CANNOT HONESTLY BE FAITHFUL TO THE TEACHINGS OF HERBERT ARMSTRONG AND POSSIBLY REMAIN IN WCG! TO DO SO WOULD BE TO IGNORE THREE OF THE TRUTHS HERBERT ARMSTRONG CLAIMED TO HAVE RESTORED TO THE CHURCH.

The Bible and Separation

The ideas of about being separate clearly originated from the Bible, and not HWA himself.

Notice Paul's warning in 2 Corinthians 11:2-4,

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted--you may well put up with it!

Jesus Himself warned that there would be a remnant of the COG that has no real outside work of proclaiming the gospel (Revelation 2:19) and put up with apostasy (vs. 20). They in a sense knowingly commit spiritual adultery and eat spiritual things sacrificed to idols (vs. 20) when they attend the lawless (i.e. advocating that one does not need to keep the ten commandments), non-COG, services that WCG normally sponsors (with many who wear idols like crosses). They knowingly allow a false church (Jezebel) to teach and to attempt to seduce those that are in its midst (vs. 20), and have failed to repent in this amount of time they have been given (vs. 21). In a sense, by supporting this Jezebel through their attendance, tithes, and compromises they are committing spiritual adultery with Jezebel and will be thrown into the great tribulation with her (vs. 22). It is a church whose children God says He will kill (vs. 23). And even those that who have not known the depths of Satan in this church (vs. 24) are not promised protection from the tribulation as those in Philadelphia are (3:10).

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches' (Revelation 2:29)

The Apostle Paul also appeared to have hade some type of Thyatiran problem to deal with or he probably would not have needed to write,

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Paul similarly, in Ephesians 5:8-11 wrote,

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Jesus similarly taught that,

Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:22-23).

Thus, one should not be part of a group that practice (or teaches lawlessness).

Paul furthermore wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22,

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

Paul appears to be saying that although idols are not really anything, and unless you want to provoke the Lord, do not participate in the worship services of pagans as they are not serving the true God and you should be separate!

Look what the last book of the Bible teaches,

Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury." And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities" (Revelation 18:2-5).

The Old Testament specifically warned the physical Israelites to not make deals with the pagans, be involved with the foods sacrificed to them, nor engage in spiritual adultery, "Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods" (Exodus 34:12-16).

More related to some of that is in the article Mystery of Iniquity.

The Church of God has Historically Separated itself from the Greco-Roman Faiths

Since the Bible said to be separate, it should come as no surprise that those who appeared to be part of the COG throughout history maintained a separation from the Greco-Roman churches.

Shlomo Pines a document that discussed Arabic Judeao-Christians (see Arabic Nazarenes May Have Kept Original Christian Practices) who seemed to have practices like other Nazarene Christians (Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?) and who separated from those called 'Christians' who wanted to compromise with Rome.

Here is the translation of one section:

(71a) 'After him', his disciples (axhab) were with the Jews and the Children of Israel in the latter's synagogues and observed the prayers and the feasts of (the Jews) in the same place as the latter. (However) there was a disagreement between them and the Jews with regard to Christ.

The Romans (al-Rum) reigned over them. The Christians (used to) complain to the Romans about the Jews, showed them their own weakness and appealed to their pity. And the Romans did pity them. This (used) to happen frequendy. And the Romans said to the Christians: "Between us and the Jews there is a pact which (obliges us) not to change their religious laws (adyan). But if you would abandon their laws and separate yourselves from them, praying as we do (while facing) the East, eating (the things) we eat, and regarding as permissible that which we consider as such, we should help you and make you powerful, and the Jews would find no way (to harm you). On the contrary, you would be more powerful than they."

The Christians answered:"We will do this."

(And the Romans) said: "Go, fetch your companions, and bring your Book (kitab)." (The Christians) went to their companions, informed them of (what had taken place) between them and the Romans and said to them: "Bring the Gospel (al-injil), and stand up so that we should go to them."

But these (companions) said to them: "You have done ill. We are not permitted (to let) the Romans pollute the Gospel. In giving a favourable answer to the Romans, you have accordingly departed from the religion. We are (therefore) no longer permitted to associate with you; on the contrary, we are obliged to declare that there is nothing in common between us and you;" and they prevented their (taking possession of) the Gospel or gaining access to it. In consequence a violent quarrel (broke out) between (the two groups). Those (mentioned in the first place) went back to the Romans and said to them: "Help us against these companions of ours before (helping us) against the Jews, and take away from them on our behalf our Book (kitab)." Thereupon (the companions of whom they had spoken) fled the country. And the Romans wrote concerning them to their governors in the districts of Mosul and in the Jazirat al-'Arab. Accordingly, a search was made for them; some (qawm) were caught and burned, others (qawm) were killed." (Pines S. The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity according to a New Source. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Volume II, No.13; 1966. Jerusalem, pp. 14-15).

The above would seem to have taken place in the second century (130s A.D.).

It is interesting for a number of reasons. It shows that there were two group that professed Christ then. One called "Christians" above, and the other (the faithful ones) called "companions." The fact that the companions would no longer associate with the compromisers showed that in whatever area the above occurred in, there were definitely two groups.  One group that got the Romans to persecute and the other group that fled the persecution.  It is also interesting to note that the “companions” were the ones with all, or at least part, of the New Testament and they separated from the compromisers. The separation between them took place about 135 A.D. (see also Marcus of Jerusalem: Apostolic successor or apostate?).

Most of the faithful ended up in Asia Minor, though some came back later to Jerusalem.

Pastor/Bishop Polycrates (c. 192) told Roman Bishop Victor that he and those in Asia Minor were not concerned about frightful words from the Church of Rome that differed from the Bible related to Passover and he kept the same practice as the apostles like John. Hence, those in Asia Minor made it clear in the latter portion of the second century that they were separate from Rome.

There continued to be a separation of the two groups into the fourth century. But one group obtained major Imperial favor after a sun-worshiping Emperor claimed to have a vision and a dream (he had one two years earlier of the sun god; see also Sunday and Christianity):

In 312, the Roman Emperor Constantine I the Great was in Trier, Germany where he had an unexpected vision of a cross that appeared in the sky..Constantine’s soldiers, the majority of whom were pagans, placed the sacred image of the cross on their shields (Mangan C.M. In This Sign You Conquer, 10/15/03 Copyright © 2004 Catholic Online).

He {Constantine} said that about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens , above the sun, and bearing the inscription , Conquer by this...in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens , and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens , and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies....At dawn of day he arose, and communicated the marvel to his friends: and then, calling together the workers in gold and precious stones, he sat in the midst of them, and described to them the figure of the sign he had seen, bidding them represent it in gold and precious stones...Now it was made in the following manner. A long spear, overlaid with gold, formed the figure of the cross by means of a transverse bar laid over it. On the top of the whole was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones; and within this, the symbol of the Saviour's name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters, the letter P being intersected by X in its centre...(Eusebius. The Life of Constantine, Chapters 28,30,31).

Although all real scholars admit that the original Christians would not kill or intentionally participate in military service, after Emperor Constantine claimed to see a spear in the sky with a traverse bar (see Constantine is Why “Christians” War), the group that accepted his authority then allowed him to convene what is known as the Council of Nicea in 325. A.D.

Yet, at that Council (according to historians, including Catholic ones), the true original Nazarene Christians did NOT attend--thus there was what amounted to be an Imperial separation between the two groups in the fourth century.

It may be helpful to realize that Emperor Constantine himself had been a follower of Mithraism as many Roman Emperors were. No wonder the Nazarene Christians were not part of his Council.

Seven-years after his Council of Nicea, Emperor Constantine decided to issue his famous "Edict Against Heretics" which resulted in the persecution of those who professed Christ who were not part of his group--so this too was a separation.

The Protestant historian Philip Schaff noted:

A portion of the Jewish Christians, however, adhered even after the destruction of Jerusalem, to the national customs of their fathers, and propagated themselves in some churches of Syria down to the end of the fourth century, under the name of Nazarenes; a name perhaps originally given in contempt by the Jews to all Christians as followers of Jesus of Nazareth. They united the observance of the Mosaic ritual law with their belief in the Messiahship and divinity of Jesus, used the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew, deeply mourned the unbelief of their brethren, and hoped for their future conversion in a body and for a millennial reign of Christ on the earth. But they indulged no antipathy to the apostle Paul. They were, therefore, not heretics, but stunted separatist Christians.  They stopped at the obsolete position of a narrow and anxious Jewish Christianity, and shrank to an insignificant sect. (Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998)

Notice there were separatist Christians with 'Jewish' practices that were sometimes called Nazarenes. Historians teach that these claimed to have originated from the original Jerusalem church and because of their separatist practices many historians have had difficulty following them past the fifth century.

Roman Catholic scholar and priest Bagatti wrote:

...the Nazarenes...had its own hierarchy...Even regarding the Nazarenes, who had many contacts with the gentile Christian {Catholic} church we have only few details, because our historians have completely neglected to hand down the doings of those separated Christians. (Bagatti. The Church from the Circumcision, p. 30)

Notice this from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The heresy of the Bogomili was started in the tenth century...followers called themselves Christians and considered their faith the only true one. In Bosnia they were named Paterines. The Paterines, or Bogomili...forbade intercourse with those of other faiths, disbelieved in war (Klaar K. Transcribed by Joseph E. O'Connor. Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Notice some comments about the Paulicians:

They honoured not the Cross, but only the book of the Gospel. They were Iconoclasts, rejecting all pictures...

The whole ecclesiastical hierarchy is bad, as also all Sacraments and ritual. They had a special aversion to monks...

Since Gibbon the Paulicians have often been described as a survival of early and pure Christianity, godly folk who clung to the Gospel, rejecting later superstitions, who were grossly calumniated by their opponents. (Fortescue, A. (1911). Paulicians. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company)

Then among the observances which we know to have been repudiated by them as neither apostolic or divine the mysterious prayers of genuflexion...The Font is denied by them...the communion of immortality...is denied...

We know that they deny the adored sign, which God, made man, raised and carried on his shoulders (Conybeare F.C. Addendix I in: The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. 127).

The following is apparently from the work History of Armenia by Chamich and is from a 1054-1058 A.D. letter written by Armenian Prince Gregory Magistros against the Manichaean (note I have left out additions by the editor/translator F. Conybeare):

...they represent our worship of God as worship of idol. As if we, who honour the sign of the cross and the holy pictures, were still engaged in worshiping devils (Conybeare F.C. Addend ix III in: The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. 149).

They were separate because they considered that the Greco-Romans were involved in devil worship.

The famous inquisition, in southern France, began in earnest in 1233 when Pope Gregory IX charged the Dominican order with wiping out Cathari (their name mean Puritan, and that is where the Puritan developed from) and others they considered to be heretics. There is a long history of European church leaders attempting to eliminate those part of, or sympathetic to, the Church of God (some of this is discussed in the article Europa, the Beast, and Revelation).

But it is important to note that while some Cathari were apparently part of the true church, many Cathari were not. Note that there were many groups considered to be Cathari and some of the doctrines they held are Church of God doctrines:

Agreed as the Cathari were ...

There are two Churches, they held,—one of the wicked and one of the righteous. They themselves constituted the Church of the righteous, outside of which there is no salvation, having received the imposition of hands and done penance according to the teaching of Christ and the Apostles. Its fruits proved that the established Church was not the true Church. The true Church endures persecution, does not prescribe it...

The Roman Church is the woman of the Apocalypse, a harlot, and the pope anti-Christ. The depositions at their trials indicate that the Cathari made much use of the Scriptures...

The Cathari quoted Christ's words, "Ye have heard how it hath been said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

One of the charges made against the established Church was that it countenanced war and marshalled armies.

The interdiction of oaths was in obedience to the words of Christ, and was in the interest of strict integrity of speech.

The Cathari also renounced priestly vestments, altars, and crosses as idolatrous. They called the cross the mark of the beast, and declared it had no more virtue than a ribbon for binding the hair. It was the instrument of Christ's shame and death, and therefore not to be used.8 Thorns or a spear would be as appropriate for religious symbols as the cross.

They also rejected, as might have been expected, the doctrines of purgatory and indulgences

(History of the Christian Church By Philip Schaff, David Schley Schaff Published by C. Scribner's sons, 1907 Item notes: v.5:pt.1 Original from Harvard University Digitized Feb 5, 2008, pp. 474, 475, 489-490).

The Cathari, Paulicians, and Nazarenes were separate from the Greco-Romans.

The Bible warns that some who claimed to be Christians would be part of the synagogue of Satan:

9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. (Revelation 3:9)

Real Christians do not wish to be part of Satan's church (early Christians often met in synagogues, and the first Christian church building in Jerusalem was really a synagogue; see Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill; also note that the above scripture is referring to Christians as Jews)

Truth is the Issue

Why else be separate?

The Bible suggests that the fundamental reason is to preserve the truth and to not be deceived by lies.

Jesus taught about His people,

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth (John 17:16-17).

Of course that does separate those of us truly in the Church of God from the world's versions of Christianity. A version that openly promotes pagan holidays, like the Saturnalia (that it renamed Christmas). A version whose leaders clearly teach that their interpretations of the Bible supersede scripture (the Roman Catholic position on this is widely known, and the most famous leader of the Protestant reformation's position is easily discernable, though many of his later followers have been deceived about this--for additional proof, please read the article Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?).

After Paul stated, "the truth of Christ is in me (2 Corinthians 11:10), he warned that there are,

...false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works" (11:13-15).

Thus Paul is saying that certain professing ministers look like they are doing the right thing, but are really deceptive. Thus one reason to be separate is not to be deceived by Satan's ministers, because they can look like they are righteous when they are not.

Paul also warned that false teachers, "by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:18).

John 8:42-46, "Jesus said to them,

If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.

Jesus showed love by telling, even the politico-religious leaders, the truth. He is teaching that His followers need to stand for the truth. The fact that they did not want to accept it and used the legal system of their day to attempt to censor Him (and later His followers) is a technique not unknown to political leaders of this day either.

Many today compromise, to 'get along'. But notice what Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12,

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Even Jesus critics, publicly (though hypocritically) acknowledged to Him,

Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth (Mark 12:14).

This shows that Jesus would stand up for the truth, irrespective of the majority position. This is the same Jesus who prayed to His Father,

I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word...They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth...they also may be sanctified by the truth (John 17:6,16-17,19).

Jesus clearly acknowledged the separation of God's people from the world, those who kept the word of truth--being sanctified by the truth means being set apart (or separate) because of it!

Notice that Paul warned that only those who have received the love of the truth would be saved. We are living in the end times now. We must love the truth enough to be separated from the teachings of the false ministers if we wish to obey God (remember also Revelation 18:4).

Conclusion

HWA taught that one should not fellowship with groups that do not teach the correct Gospel, whether or not they keep the Sabbath, are Protestant, Catholic, or some other professing Christian group.

Jesus clearly told those who practices lawlessness to depart from Him (Matthew 7:22-23). Jesus also taught, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" " (John 8:31-32).

The New Testament specifically warned the Thyatirans to not go along with pagans, affiliate with their idolatry, be involved with the foods sacrificed to them, nor engage in spiritual adultery (Revelation 2:18-20). The so-called faithful in WCG have allowed themselves to attend non-COG church services, hear non-COG messages, fellowship with unbelievers, and be surrounded by the promotion of non-biblical (pagan) beliefs and practices.

True Christians should not fellowship with them, nor other professing so-called 'Christian' groups that are not truly part of the Church of God.

Those interested in more information, may wish to read the article Unity: Which COG is for You? and/or the following:

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?

Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

B. Thiel. Being Separate: What Did Herbert Armstrong and The Bible Teach About Where Not To Fellowship? www.cogwriter.com (c) 2004/2006/ 2012 / 2015 /2016 0227

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