Main street of ancient Laodicea
Laodicea is the seventh of the seven churches listed in the Book of Revelation. The Laodicean Church became predominant towards the end of the twentieth century.
After Herbert Armstrong died, his designated successor, Joseph Tkach, Sr. claimed that while he could not fill Herbert Armstrong's shoes, he would walk in his footsteps and not change biblical doctrines. However, he did not keep his word but compromised with doctrine, advocated lawlessness, etc. This caused many to fall away, and others to scatter. Many Laodicean groups later formed.
Since Jesus had negative things to say about Laodicea (see Revelation 3:14-21), all who truly are dedicated to the Bible would want to be part of the remnant of the Philadelphia Church era, as currently represented by the Continuing Church of God. Or risk having to go through the Great Tribulation.
Jesus told the Church of the Laodiceans:
14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked--
18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ' " (Revelation 3:14-22, NKJV throughout).
There are several differences in the statements to the church of the Laodiceans that do not seem to be included in the messages to the other churches.
These unique statements include: the term for the location being plural (vs. 14), being lukewarm (vs.15-16), being vomited out (vs.16), thinking they are self-sufficient while not knowing that they are miserable and blind (vs. 17), being counseled to buy gold refined in the fire (vs. 18), that those among them that Jesus loves will be rebuked and chastened (vs. 19), and that Jesus has to knock to find out if any will answer (vs. 20). Jesus also condemns their work.
Many of these negative statements will be cited in this paper to help demonstrate the identity of those part of the church of the Laodiceans.
According to Strong's Greek concordance, Laodicea is a combination of two words, laos which it defines as "people" and dike, which is defined by Strong's as "right," "judgment," "punish," and "vengeance."
Notice something published by the old Global Church of God:
Smith's Bible Dictionary defines Laodicea to mean "justice of the people." Might the term Laodicean convey that the predominant characteristic of this Church is that people rule, people judge--or even that the people are judgmental? (Thiel B. Philadelphia & Laodicea. Global Church News, July-August 1998, p. 12).
Laodicean's improperly judge and improperly change the Church's direction. This has happened with to nearly all COG groups.
I personally have long felt that the term Laodicea conveys a difference in governance and direction--a more humanistic, carnal approach. Since the Philadelphians are admonished to "Hold fast what you have" (Revelation 3:11) and the Laodiceans say, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing" (vs. 17) it would seem that most Laodiceans have rejected other biblical truths as well.
Also, the following from the Old Testament seems to apply to the Laodiceans:
12 There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, Yet is not washed from its filthiness. 13 There is a generation--oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up. (Proverbs 30:12-13)
The Laodiceans are essentially the last generation of the Church age. They need to be washed and have white garments, but they think they are fine already.
Were the Laodiceans Expected by the Philadelphians?
While Herbert Armstrong was alive, he or his subordinates, wrote the following about the Laodicean era of the Church:
... the final generation of the Church shall be LUKEWARM -- not less emotional, but more 'liberal,' more secular and less spiritual -- less strictly biblical --" "Speaking of the present 'Philadelphia' era, it says ... because we have kept God's Word faithfully, not liberalizing nor watering down, God will keep us from the 'hour of temptation, which shall come upon all them that dwell on the earth' to try and test them. (Armstrong HW. Personal from Herbert W. Armstrong. Plain Truth, August 1980).
But, the BAD NEWS, as it appears today, my dear brethren, is that we, undoubtedly of the Philadelphian era ... are in serious danger of BECOMING also the Laodicean era. I am personally much concerned about that. If YOU are NOT concerned, then indeed we are in mortal DANGER. (Armstrong HW. Personal from Herbert W. Armstrong. Good News, August 1979).
It is the Church of Laodicea who had no vital part in the work of God today even though they live today and are part of the generation which will see Christ return (What is the Laodicean Church? Good News, August 1959, p.12).
Just as the remnants of the Sardis era of the Church exist side by side with the Philadelphia era, SO WE WILL CONTINUE OUR WORK to the very "end time" when another group will appear -- a group not accounted worthy to escape the coming tribulation. Another separate work is yet to arise -- made up of begotten individuals who are spiritually lukewarm! WOE BE TO ANY OF US IF WE TAKE PART IN SUCH A WORK! Here is a work, yet to arise because of our preaching" (True History of the True Church, 1959).
Now, here we find, while it’s pictured as seven churches, it’s really seven stages of the one True Church.., in seven successive times. Also, you’ll find every one of the seven conditions in the church at all times but, in the early years, the Ephesus condition dominated and the tail end of it the Laodicean condition is to dominate on the earth and there you are. (Armstrong HW. History of the True Church – Part 4. Radio broadcast, transcript)
The Word of God says: forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, SO MUCH THE MORE as you see this day approaching. We see it approaching; and we are going to sleep, sound asleep. "Let's just go off and do our own thing for the summer." I don't care if there are only two or three here. I don't care if all the rest of you… Well, I do care too. But, with me, I would rather have two or three filled with the Spirit of the Living God than to have this Church packed full (and a thousand other Churches like it) of lukewarm people getting into the Laodicean condition, doing their own thing. ...
(17) And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed. The remnant is the last one, or the Laodicean Era.
(Before going further, it may be of interest to realize that the Seventh-day Adventist church considers itself the 'remnant' of Revelation 12:17--see SDA/CCOG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666--but they do not realize that the particular 'remnant' of Revelation 12:17 is part of those condemned by Jesus elsewhere in Revelation chapter 3.)
... Revelation 12:17 ... went to make war with the remnant…that keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Now the Laodicean Church will be keeping the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus, or they wouldn't be the Church of God. But they are lukewarm, and they are asleep ...
Laodicea is the DOMINANT condition in the FINAL Church—drowsy, and asleep, and lukewarm. And Christ is going to spew them (most of them) out of His mouth (or at least half of them). Matthew 25 would indicate half of them, and I sometimes wonder if there are half of us that… We're just not very much on fire for God, brethren. I say that to your shame, every one of you. I say wake up! I'm not going to say, "You're right, and everything is so wonderful, and everything is going fine." and flatter you. I'm going to tell you the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts. And I hope it hurts. I hope it hurts enough that you wake up, and realize, and do something about it. And I hope that you go home from this service, and get down on your knees, and ask for the mercy and the forgiveness of God, and ask Him to come back into your life—because that's what you need to do. And your eternity may depend on it!
Well, now then, I have said that the Laodicean condition will dominate at the tail end. But I have said that all of those conditions—all the way from Ephesus up to Laodicea, all seven—are present at all the time in the Church; but that now, in the Philadelphian Era, we have the Laodicean condition. That's what I am talking about today. It's here. (Armstrong HW. Warning To The Church. Sermon, July 1, 1978)
Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman--That's the Church--, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed--The remnant is the last part, the tag end of a bolt of cloth that you buy in a dry goods store; and the remnant then is the Laodicean Church--, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Armstrong HW. Revelation 12. Sermon, April 18, 1981)
These seven messages DO apply to seven successive church eras. BUT they also apply to the WHOLE CHURCH through ALL eras. In other words, the Ephesus characteristics DOMINATED in the first era, and the Laodicean will dominate in the last, but SOME of these characteristics are found in EVERY era. (Armstrong HW. Human Nature, Did God Create It? 1976)
You may have to give your present life in order to make the Kingdom of God. Are you going to try to live on and save it? Or are you willing...? There is one place in the 12th chapter of Revelation where, after Satan has had the battle in heaven once again and has been sent back down to earth, where the "saints loved not their lives unto death." And that's speaking of our time, and our people, and those of the Laodicean Church to follow us almost immediately. And the Laodicean Era of the Church has not yet come, but it will; and I think that we are doing a whole lot to raise it up. (Armstrong HW. Mark of the Beast. Sermon, December 11, 1982)
The Laodiceans were not prominent until probably around the time of the death of Herbert Armstrong, but there were many Laodiceans.
As the writings above demonstrate, the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God has long taught that near the end, a separate work (which also happens to be a series of separated works) of those who are lukewarm will emerge. A work that is not hot and apparently less strictly biblical, but will dominate in followers.
And sadly, this has occurred. And while it is not absolutely clear when the bulk of the Church of God (COG) became Laodicean, it is clear that Herbert Armstrong died in 1986 and that his successors in WCG discarded nearly every 'COG doctrine' that WCG once had. Hence, this is why I decided to use 1986 as the date of Laodicea's predominance (though there were many Laodiceans prior to that date). The Laodiceans mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots.
Now in spite the the quotes from HWA and the old Good News, some believe that HWA only taught that Laodicea could not arise until after the Philadelphians go to a place of safety. Those who do this simply do not understand HWA's written clarifications of this, nor the scriptures.
Recall that Jesus chastised the Laodicean Church for a lukewarm work. If the existence of the the Laodicean Church only comes at the beginning of the great tribulation and their main work is to be persecuted and killed, it does not seem that this would be considered to be lukewarm. Hence, the Laodiceans MUST be around prior to the great tribulation. And that means that they will be severely persecuted during the time of the Great Tribulation (please also see the article Persecutions from Church and State). Think on this!
The late John Ogwyn wrote and warned:
In Revelation 3, we read of two final phases of the history of the Church of God. The Church of Philadelphia was to be characterized by a zeal to do the Work. God promised to set before them an 'open door' as well as to protect them from the future Great Tribulation. However, there is a final seventh stage of the Church described, as the Church at Laodicea. This church was to be described by spiritual lukewarmness and lethargy. It is described as a worldly church, and certainly one which fit in with the spirit of these permissive, modern times...Some of God's people have been overwhelmed by the cares and problems of this life or by personal problems and have dropped by the wayside. Others have been deceived by false prophets and have gone into apostasy. Still others have become so lethargic and softened by comfort that they have lost their vision and merely wish to maintain local churches, no longer caring about doing the Work (Ogwyn, John. God's Church Through the Ages. Booklet. 1995).
It may be of interest to note that John Ogwyn originally wrote the above prior to 1995 (and it was published prior to March 1995) and prior to the time that most people left the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Sadly, he was quite correct about what would happen.
Roderick C. Meredith wrote:
One of the primary dangers for all of us in God’s Church is Laodiceanism. We are definitely in what the Bible indicates is the “last era”—the last church age of God’s Church just before the Tribulation. The Apostle John was inspired to describe this era in very clear terms in Revelation 3:14–22. Note...those who are Laodiceans may have a “watered-down” approach to doctrine in general, but they appear to have most of the Truth. It is just that they are complacent and may say, in effect: “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” (v. 17). Yet, in God’s eyes, they are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.” Where do I stand? Where do you stand? Each of us must constantly try to objectively evaluate ourselves—not other people. And I warn you solemnly that not all Laodiceans are in the “other groups!” For we in the Living Church of God have a certain number of Laodiceans, and all of us are in danger of becoming that way if we succumb to the dominant “spirit” of this church age—and of the society around us. discouraged by the continuing captivity of his people and perhaps the general malaise among them, he began to zealously seek God... Each of us must constantly try to objectively evaluate ourselves—not other people. And I warn you solemnly that not all Laodiceans are in the “other groups!” (Meredith, Roderick. Editorial. Living Church News, July-August 2002, p.3).
Roderick C. Meredith was correct. Simply being a member of the church that contains part of a remnant of the Philadelphia era of the true Church of God, does NOT make one a Philadelphian--and sadly Laodiceanism increased to the point in LCG that the Continuing Church of God had to form. Perhaps I should mention that during the years when I was an official (by his appointment) advisor to Dr. Meredith, I repeatedly told him that he seemed to have a major problem in being able to distinguish between Laodiceans and Philadelphians. The end result of that is that LCG is no longer the leader of the Philadelphian remnant and is primarily composed of Laodiceans and people who will end up that way if they stay there too long.
Additionally, by defining its uniqueness by its improper falling away doctrine (see The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings), LCG publicly proclaimed that it was in essence, improperly changing its direction (plus took others steps away from the truth).
Now one point to add here. Someone in LCG said something to me to the effect of "the apostacy of WCG was obvious and even though LCG has clear prophetic errors (like the identity of the Man of Sin as well as the verse in the Daniel 11 sequence that the Great Tribulation), it has not commited blatant apostacy and hence, God has not made it clear to leave it."
After I reminded that person that LCG officially (it was in a "must-see" sermon) declared its 'falling away' doctrine is what set it apart from the other COG groups, I essentially reminded that person that Laodiceans still keep God's commandments and accept Jesus (Revelation 12:17). Furthermore, the Laodicean groups are not false churches, but are not Philadelphian. I also reminded that person that the Bible says that God would use dreams in the last days (cf. Acts 2:17)--and that person (like many others of Laodicea) said that dreams were not really important (see also Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?)--but I reminded that person that God, essentially, says otherwise (see also Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God). Jesus said an evil and adulterous generation needed a blatant sign (Matthew 12:39), and the Laodiceans, who discount how God works (confirmed dreams being of His way). While even Elijah was looking for a dramatic sign once, God used "a still small voice" (1 Kings 19:11-13). Laodiceans are generally unwilling to recognize that God does not always work like they think He needs to.
Now, notice also something that was accurate in 2001:
The Living Church of God cannot claim that all its members are Philadelphian, but we do believe we are a uniquely Philadelphian remnant ... Of course, simply attending with the Living Church of God does not make one a Philadelphian; individual members must do their part, and must not allow their lives to be cluttered by the cares of this world so that they themselves become lukewarm (Laodicean)...there are Philadelphians outside the Living Church of God. (Thiel R. What Is a Philadelphian? Living Church News. July-August 2001).
This is the time for Laodicea and it has been for over three decades, and Laodiceanism is increasing. Back in/near 2009, despite it still then (in my view) having the 'Philadelphia mantle' within it, when I was asked by someone if I felt that the majority in the Living Church of God were Philadelphian, I responded with "No." The majority there were Laodicean then and this has increasingly become a problem there since (see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God and What About the Living Church of God? Are there Doctrinal Differences with the Continuing Church of God?).
Background on Laodiceans
It has been taught that the churches mentioned in Revelation 2 & 3 probably have at least three applications in that they represent seven contemporaneous churches, the seven successive eras of the New Testament Church, and probably seven successive eras in the Old Testament Church. That latter teaching has the first Laodicean era beginning with the Maccabean revolt and existing at the time of Jesus (McNair, Carl. Idols of the Heart. LCG videotape VTE122, 3/24/01). During Jesus' day, there were two main religious groups within Israel, the Sadducees and the Pharisees (plus others, some of which were not considered part of the Church). Since it is apparent that we are currently living during the Laodicean era, is it not likely that there are modern Sadducees and Pharisees?
The Maccabean's revolted because "Antiochus polluted the altar by offering a sow upon it. He declared the daily sacrifices and other Mosaic ceremonies illegal and committed an abomination of desolation by erecting an image of Zeus in the holy place...Mattathias, father of five sons, refused to offer sacrifices in a profane manner...He and his sons fled to the mountains and began the famous Maccabean revolt" (The Nelson Study Bible, 1997. Notes, page 1442).
In like manner, most rightly left WCG because of various abominations that they saw occur. For example, WCG now uses a cross now as part of its identification which is on the property in Pasadena (I have seen it) and "In 46 B.C., Roman coins show Jupiter holding a scepter terminating in a cross. This was his symbol" (Babylon Mystery Religion, 1966, page 53). It is of interest to note that Jupiter is simply the Roman name for the Greek god Zeus--hence there appears to be a historical parallel here.
Just like the Maccabean revolt ultimately ended with groups that did not hold fast to all the truth (hence they became Sadducees and Pharisees), the same type of thing seems to have happened in modern times.
As far as anicient Laodicea goes, notice the following:
The city was located about forty miles southeast of Philadelphia and one hundred miles east of Ephesus. It was founded by Antiochus II between 260 and 246 B.C., and was named in honor of his wife, Laodice, who afterward poisoned him. This is the Antiochus who formed the marriage league with Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, in fulfillment of Daniel 11:6.
Laodicea was mostly populated with Syrians and Jews transported from Babylon.
A Wealthy City
Laodicea was located in the midst of a rich farming country and was famed for its wealth. In it extensive banking operations were carried on. Cicero proposed to cash his treasury bills of exchange in Laodicea because of these facilities. The city had large markets controlled mostly by the Jews, of whom there were 7,500 besides women and children at the time the epistle was written. So wealthy were the citizens that when the city was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 60, they refused the help offered by the imperial Roman government and rebuilt at their own expense. This example of self-sufficiency was so rare that it made the city famous. Because of their situation Christ's statement regarding the pride of spiritual wealth on the part of the church members is full of meaning. He spoke to the rich merchants and bankers of this wealthy mercantile city in their own dialect.
The city was also noted for the black cloth manufactured there from wool produced in the valley. The wool was glossy black and of a soft texture almost like silk and became famous throughout the whole region. Black garments were almost universally worn by the Laodiceans, and of them they were very proud. Christ advised the Christians of the city to buy of Him "white raiment," which represented the beautiful robe of His own righteousness. The people of Laodicea were familiar with the white toga worn by Roman citizens and officials. To be privileged to wear this white garment was esteemed a high honor. To the Romans it was symbolic of victory, and to the Christians it represented purity of character through the imputed and imparted righteousness of Christ.
Noted Health Resort
In connection with the Temple of Karu was a renowned school of medicine. This temple was one of two hundred throughout the Greek and Roman world dedicated to Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine and the pagan counterfeit of the Messiah. He was known as "The Great Physician." In this temple was made the famous Phygian eyesalve, called collyrium, which was sold in all parts of the then-known world. This gives forceful meaning to the counsel of the Great Physician, who advised the spiritually blind Laodiceans to buy eyesalve of Him that they might have spiritual vision.
Also near the city were a number of hot, cold, and lukewarm springs, and especially the latter. Most of these waters contained minerals with supposed healing properties. Thousands of sick people journeyed to Laodicea to be physically benefited by the eyesalve, the mineral water, and the hot and lukewarm baths. Although the water was pleasing to the body for bathing, most of it was nauseous to those who drank. This makes very appropriate the language used by Christ in this epistle.
Proud and Self-Satisfied
In extravagant fashions and fine apparel the city was the Paris of its time.
Laodicea was also famous as a pleasure resort for the physically strong and prosperous, and a health resort for the sick.
(Bunch, Taylor G. The Seven Epistles of Christ. Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Assn., 1947 as cited in The Seven Cities of Asia Minor, Ambassador College Study Guide, pre-1987, pp. 9-10)
There is a hot springs region called Pammukale several miles from ancient Laodicea that my wife and I were able to visit in 2008. We also visited Laodicea itself. The hot waters of Pammukale turned lukewarm by the time they were transported to Laodicea. To see some of Laodicea and Pammukale, check out Joyces Photos of Laodicea.
Smith's Bible Dictionary says that the Sadducees "were for the most part judges, and individuals of the governing class...The leading tenet of the Sadducees was the negation of the leading tenet of their opponents...The second distinguishing doctrine of the Sadducees was the denial of man's resurrection after death." Halley's Bible Handbook says the Sadducees "were a priestly clique...irreligious...they were rationalistic and worldly minded." In addition Josephus wrote, "Sadducees...think it an instance of virtue to dispute with those teachers of philosophy whom they frequent...Sadducees...say... that they may act as they please...But the behavior of the Sadducees ones towards another is in some degrees wild; and their conversation with those that are of their own party is as barbarous as if they were strangers to them." Thus the Sadducees were a mixture of independents and semi-independent individuals.
Scripture confirms that many of the Sadducees were associated with the priesthood and that they were somewhat hostile to the true Church, "Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison" (Acts 5:17-18). There exists great indignation among many of the so-called independents of what they refer to a 'corporate churches'; there also exists a great deal of indignation among those who are ministers in various COGs to be under the authority of the primary one God is doing His main work through today. The Sadducees may have been prophesied, "How can you say, "We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us'?...Behold they have rejected the word of the LORD; So what wisdom do they have?" (Jeremiah 8:8-9).
The Sadducees of old apparently considered human governance and position more important than God's as John wrote, "The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!" " (John 19:15). They also would not teach the whole plan of salvation, "For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection--and no angel or spirit" (Acts 23:8). "Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him...Jesus answered and said to them, "Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?" " (Mark 12:18,24).
There are many today whose leading tenet seems to be the denial of the doctrine of God's governance. They are mistaken because they do not know the Scriptures (for further information please read the article Should a Christian Vote? and The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings). They are candidates to be modern Sadducees. Interestingly, many who reject God's governance also have denied God's system of financing and have done away with some teachings concerning tithing. The most common rejection of tithing comes from those who claim that the governments of the world have taken over caring for the needy, and thus they do not believe they need to pay third tithe (here is an article Is Third Tithe Still Valid Today? which addresses many of the arguments against third tithe). This clearly is a worldly attitude.
Like the Sadducees of Jesus' day, modern Sadducees also do not teach the whole plan of God and they seem to disagree amongst themselves on specifics. Some will not teach that we are to be born again to be part of God's family. Some do not teach that we are begotten by God's Spirit. Some deny that there are eras of God's Church. Some do not teach that some of God's promises to Israel were fulfilled with the blessings given the the British descendant peoples. Some deny scriptures such as Matthew 18 (see Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God) and Matthew 28:19 (see Is Matthew 28:19 in the Bible?). Most do not consider that the top priority of the Church should be proclaiming the Gospel to the world as a witness (and some who do overly compromise with parts of the message). Many observe birthdays. Some do not teach their is a place of safety, or if they do, they teach the place is not Petra. Some are independent of all organized efforts to proclaim the Gospel. Some are irreligious, and like the Sadducees of old, they just do not know the power of God and will not let it rule their lives. Others who claim to belive in biblical church governance instead have decided to rely a bit more on their organization than they have the word of God.
Notice what Jesus told the Sadducees.
29 Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matthew 22:23-32 )
Many in the COGs do not know the scriptures as they should nor the power of God (see also 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 and The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government).
On that Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter taught in the last days God would pour out of His Spirit with dreams and some would prophesy (Acts 2:14b-18). We are in the last days (see also Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?). Therefore, dreams and prophesy were expected for our day--but Laodiceans do not accept that true dreams and prophecy have been present in the 21st century! (See also Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?)
Laodiceans also do not seem to understand the following scripture:
25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)
(See also What About Romans 11:25 and the Full Number of the Gentiles?)
The late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:
Now study carefully beginning verse 25: "Blindness in part is happened to Israel [HOW LONG? Forever? No — note it], UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" — the end of this age during which God is calling a people from among the gentiles to bear His name (Acts 15:14). And so, says Romans 11:26, "all Israel SHALL BE SAVED [how?]: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." The Deliverer, Jesus Christ, is coming again!
When He comes, the gentile times will be over — the BLINDNESS will be removed from the Israelites — and their opportunity — their FIRST chance — of salvation will then come to those whom God had blinded! This is at the time when He comes to REIGN on HIS THRONE — the throne of David, with the saints made immortal reigning and ruling with Him — and the time is DURING THE THOUSAND YEARS!
Notice verse 31. These blinded Israelites have not now, in this age, received mercy, that through the mercy of the gentiles saved in this age, they MAY, THEN, obtain mercy and salvation. How? Because these saved gentiles will then be kings and priests, assisting in this wonderful Work! (Armstrong HW. Where Will The MILLENNIUM Be Spent? Tomorrow's Word magazine, September 1971)
Clearly, we are much closer to the time when all the Gentiles are to come in to later be kings and priests!
Does your church teach or understand this?
Will you believe the Bible or reason around it?
More of the Gentiles had to be called--and that is happening.
The end does NOT come until the 'gospel of the kingdom' reaches enough nations and the full number (as the NIV, NLT, BSB, CEV, GNT, HCSV, ISV, and NET Bible, put Romans 11:25) of Gentiles God wants in this age come in.
Yet, many Laodiceans seem to think that Gentiles from poor countries do not count as much as others. This is wrong. See also: CCOG's 6 Years and Scriptures Laodiceans Miss.
It probably should also be noted that the Bible teaches to "walk by faith and not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet, those in the Laodicean groups/fellowships seem to feel that it is better to walk by sight.
Many believe that they have been hurt by individuals, ministers, and/or church organizations in the past, and because they still keep basic doctrine, that this is acceptable to God. Jesus did NOT agree as His comments to the Laodiceans demonstrates that.
The New Testament has the following warnings:
8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
In the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
And saw My works forty years.
10 Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, 'They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.'
11 So I swore in My wrath,
'They shall not enter My rest.' (Hebrews 3:8-11)
7 Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts. (Hebrews 4:7)
Many have hardened their hearts. Look, when Pharaoh hardened his heart, he thought he was doing what was best for Egypt. When the children of Israel hardened their hearts, they apparently thought that they were the people of God, hence they were doing the right thing. Laodiceans are like that.
Because of how many believe they were treated, they are no longer Philadelphian (even if they claim to be). Jesus warned the Philadelphians:
11 Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Revelation 3:11)
Many Laodiceans have let the actions of men (and women) take the Philadelphian crown away from them. They tend not to really accept BIBLICAL governance (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government).
They normally accept the fact that men ordained their leaders, but refuse to accept the fact that the Bible says that God reveals Himself to prophets via dreams (Numbers 12:9). True prophets of God are, from a hierarchical perspective, above evangelists and ministers per Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28. Yet, Laodiceans seem unwilling to believe God's word about these matters (see also Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God).
Consider also the following by Norman Edwards, who was a former employee of the old WCG and former board member of the old Global Church of God:
There are over 40 separate pages about prophets and their prophecies in the New Testament—so many that one might easily get tired of reading them! We have left out verses about the Old Testament prophets and New Testament false prophets to keep the list shorter. If we want God to show us what will happen in the future, we need to “desire earnestly to prophesy” (1Cor 14:39). It is a New Testament teaching we must not ignore!
John 16:13 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
Acts 2:15-18 “For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.”
Acts 8:29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
Acts 9:10-12 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.”
Acts 10:1-3 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”
Acts 10:10-20 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again. Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”
The above pair of prophetic visions were so important, their story is completely retold in Acts 11:4-14.
Acts 11:27-29 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 12:8-9 Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
Acts 13:1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 15:32 Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.
Acts 16:9-10 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Acts 18:9-10 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.”
Acts 19:5-7 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.
Acts 20:23 “except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.
Acts 21:8-9 On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.
Rom 12:4-6 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 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;
1Cor 11:4-5 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.
1Cor 12:7-10 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
1Cor 12:28-29 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?
1Cor 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1Cor 13:8-9 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
1Cor 14:1,3-6 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy…. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification. But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?
1Cor 14:22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all.
1Cor 14:26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
1Cor 14:29-32 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
1Cor 14:37-39 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.
2Cor 12:1-2, 7 It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I [Paul] will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago — whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows — such a one was caught up to the third heaven…. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
Gal 1:12 For I [Paul] neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Eph 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
Eph 2:19-20 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
Eph 3:3-5 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:
Eph 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
1Th 5:19-21 Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.
1Tim 1:18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,
1Tim 4:14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
2Tim 3:1-2, 5 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
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”. (Edwards N. Need Prophets More than Prophecy. Shepherd's Voice, Fall 2013)
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 ...
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. ...
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? (Edwards N.)
His writings, hopefully, will people pause who doubt that God can use prophets today, while his first comment about 40 scriptures should also assist people in understanding that. The Bible shows that in these end times, most Christians have a Laodicean work and need to repent (Revelation 3:14-19), but will not do so. They do not properly discern the spirits and will not accept God's actual prophet(s) as they should.
Consider that in 2015, Norman Edwards also wrote:
Two Wrongs Do Not Make a Right
... 37 If you claim to be a prophet or think you are spiritual, you should recognize that what I am saying is a command from the Lord himself. But if you do not recognize this, you yourself will not be recognized. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking in tongues. But be sure that everything is done properly and in order (1 Corinthians 14:31- 33, 37-40).
Simply because some congregations do not follow this scripture does not mean that there is not a proper use of spiritual gifts today. Think about this. Almost all of us would agree that we know of another church denomination or congregation that teaches erroneous doctrines. But does that error stop us from teaching the Bible? It should not. Similarly, many people do not attend church congregations because they have experienced corruption there before. But should that stop us from continuing to meet in congregations as the Bible instructs?
Two wrongs do not make a right!
Simply because some congregations that promote “spiritual gifts” do not follow all the scriptural teaching on it, does not mean that dedicated believers can abandon these vital gifts. It becomes all the more important for godly people to do it right. The number of false prophets compared to the number of true prophets does not matter. Elijah went up against 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah. The power of God destroyed all the false prophets (1 Kings 18:17-40). (Edwards N. Spiritual Oomph! Shepherd's Voice, Fall 2015, pp. 11-12)
Basically, Norman Edwards is saying that the New Testament does tell of prophets, and that even though there can be vast multitudes of false prophets, that those who will really be the most faithful will listen to God's prophet(s). Jesus Himself also warned in His parable of the talents that some would not support the work for fear of mistakes, and Jesus condemned the one who was afraid to do what should have been done (Matthew 25:24-30).
TWO WRONGS DO NOT MAKE A RIGHT!
The existence of false prophets does NOT excuse not supporting a real one (see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God).
Perhaps the bulk of those that were once part of WCG and still claim to be part of the Church of God appear to be in this Sadduccee category of Laodiceans as they do not accept true prophets. They also WILL NOT HEED THE TWO WITNESSES UNTIL IT IS A BIT TOO LATE.
Halley's Bible Handbook states that the, "Pharisees were the most numerous and influential of the religious sects of Jesus' day. They were strict legalists. They stood for the rigid observance of the letter and forms of the Law, and also for the Traditions."
According to Smith's Bible Dictionary, "The fundamental principle of the Pharisees... is that ... there was an oral law to complete and explain the written law, given to Moses".
A biblical example of that would be Matthew 15:1-2, "Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus saying, 'Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread'". The Pharisees were quite concerned about 'the tradition of the elders' even though there was no biblical requirement to wash hands before eating bread. Some modern Pharisees seem to focus more on traditions, such as their interpretation of some teaching of Herbert Armstrong, than the Bible.
Some have even suggested that some of Mr. Armstrong's teachings are at least equal to scripture. While I believe that God used Herbert Armstrong to restore much truth to the Church, the Bible and not Herbert Armstrong must be the ultimate standard for the Church--it has to be the Bible (II Timothy 3:16).
The Pharisees of old said, "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), but they did not do what Jesus taught. Some modern Pharisees say that Herbert Armstrong should be followed, but they will not follow his example of proclaiming the Gospel.
Jesus often called the Pharisees hypocrites (Mat 15:7;16:3;22:18;23:23,25,27,29; Mk 7:6). According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, the Greek word Jesus used that was translated as hypocrite means, "an actor under an assumed role". Likewise, modern Pharisees may pretend they are part of the Philadelphia era, while they are actually a part of the Laodicean era.
Though they have a form of governance, the Pharisees reject the one that God is primarily working through (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government).
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." (John 3:1-2).
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth" (Matthew 22:15-16).
When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death (Matthew 27:1),
Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons (John 18:3),
they had handed Him over because of envy (Matthew 27:18).
The Pharisees eliminated the competition so-to-speak, instead of supporting the one that taught the truth of God and did the work. Some Sadducees were also involved in this, cf. Matthew 16:1-12).
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (Matthew 23:23-24).
There are those today who focus on insignificant points, yet overlook more important ones--this is a trait of Pharisee Laodiceans.
But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone (Luke 11:42).
Also according to Strong's, Philadelphia means "fraternal affection," "brotherly love," "love of the brethren," "fond of the brethren." While the Philadelphians show the love of God by placing their top priority on proclaiming the Gospel to the world as a witness, the modern Pharisees do not. They like the old-time, "Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves" (Luke 7:30).
Many modern Pharisees often quote Herbert Armstrong and claim that only be following their interpretation of his teachings can one be a Philadelphian. Yet, Herbert Armstrong warned against those who had twigs but not the trunk of the tree.
In his November 19, 1976 letter Herbert Armstrong wrote, "It is true that Baptists, fundamental Methodists, and other Protestant denominations, do teach some things as we do--but they have the branches and twigs of the tree--NOT ONE OF THEM has the real TRUNK of the tree--with its MAIN BRANCHES...But Christ said to His Philadelphia era Church, that because we have but little strength, He would OPEN THOSE DOORS TO US (Rev. 3:8).
Furthermore, you cannot read anywhere in the Bible where it suggests that the top priority of the New Testament Church should not be proclaiming the Gospel. For further proof, please read the article Should the Church's Top Priority be Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority? This article proves that Herbert Armstrong did not change this priority as many modern Pharisees have claimed.
The Apostle Paul also wrote:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Many think that they have knowledge, faith, etc. and think that they are fine. But most Christians in the end times do not have Philadelphian love (cf. Matthew 24:12). They do not have the work that God expects them to have.
12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13)
This is precisely what happened to the Laodiceans from the old WCG. This led to the Laodiceans to become the majority--most Christians in the end times are Laodicean.
Unlike the Philadelphians, the lukewarm Laodiceans did not "hold fast" (Revelation 3:11), endure with the right attitude, towards the work of reaching others. They felt that because they got through the lawless teachings of the Tkach Administration, that they were fine. But the Bible is clear that keeping the commandments and not being Philadelphian is NOT enough for protection from the coming hour of trial (Revelation 3:10; 12:14-17).
Jesus warned that the Laodiceans thought they needed nothing, but He said that they needed to change (Revelation 3:14-22). Paul says love, however does not puff up.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Many Laodiceans say that they have endured enough, hence do not wish to risk making the type of changes that those with Philadelphian love would make.
Love is never fails and is more important than what many in the last days are focused on.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
Some of the modern Pharisees seem to place their interpretation of what Herbert Armstrong wrote ahead of the Bible. They focus on twigs, miss the weightier matters of the law, do not have the love of God in any major way, and do not obey the Bible when it comes to proclaiming the Gospel as a witness as their top priority.
Although the modern Pharisees seem to have these type of characteristics, they seem to have separated based on their interpretation of HWA's writings or their own interpretations of matters. And if they did properly realize how to use his writings and/or the Bible, they would not be where they are today. They perhaps should read and study the articles Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God and The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government.
Most of the larger Laodicean Church of God groups are 501(c)(3) registered non-profit corporations.
They basically do this to try to maximize income potential and to shield the founders from possible tax-deductibility and other lawsuits.
But doing so restricts there ability to proclaim all the truths of the Bible. This is also true for smaller COGs that are 501(c)(3) registered with the US IRS.
It is not that they do not teach any--they are not cold. But they often tend to pull punches when they should not--they are thus not hot.
Yet, the Bible teaches:
1 Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. (Isaiah 58:1)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Many COG groups are more cautious and unwilling to do that as much as they should. Part of the reason from USA based groups is that most of them are 501(c)(3) registered and are not corporation soles.
Jesus warned that most Christians would be lukewarm in the end times, and not have the proper Philadelphian love (cf. Matthew 24:12) and we are seeing that.
More on those matters can be found in the following:
Congregations of the Continuing Church of God This is a listing of congregations and groups of the Continuing Church of God around the world. Here is a link to a related sermon: CCOG, a corporation sole, not a 501(c)(3).
501(c)(3)? Why the Continuing Church of God chose a better option Churches in the USA do NOT have to register as 501(c)(3). Why would they? Why is what CCOG did better?
Why is the Continuing Church of God a corporation sole? What is a 'corporation sole' and why is this a better organizational choice?
Know Them by Their Fruits
Jesus taught that fruits will identify the true from the false:
15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:15-20)
So, fruits are the criteria Matthew recorded that Jesus set to determine if one is a true or false prophet. This also should help see who could represent Philadelphia as well as Laodicea.
Good trees produce a lot of fruit.
The CCOG has the signs/fruits and fruits of Acts 2:17-18 (see also Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?).
Deuteronomy 7:13 refers to people as the fruit of the womb.
If fruits can be defined as people in the Church of God, then CCOG has those.
Since CCOG formed, it has produced the most fruit that way than any xWCG group.
On December 5, 2018, The 7th Day Sabbath Church of God News website had the following on its news page:
The figures reported by the churches are:
United Church of God: 12,360 according to Peter Eddington on 26th February 2018.
Church of God a Worldwide Association: approx.11,000 (5,500 in the USA), according to Jim Franks on 29th November 2018.
Continuing Church of God: 3,800 according to Robert Thiel. (Over 3600 are in Africa.)
The LCG, PCG and RCG do not give out numbers, but attendances for all three have been declining significantly.
Living Church of God: 6,000? 9,000 was presumably the attendance when Robert Thiel left LCG to form his own church, and it surely hasn’t sunk to 3,000 today. The only membership loss announced publicly was the transfer of the Geneva, Switzerland, congregation to COGWA.
Philadelphia Church of God: 3,500? Stephen Flurry commented a couple of years ago that PCG had levelled out at around 5,000. In 2017 The Philadelphian magazine listed 143 congregations, indicating that 2,000 must be on the low side.
Restored Church of God: 1,000? If it isn’t down to this figure (or lower) now, it surely will be soon – David Pack is continually losing members and ministers – even his second-in-command left recently.
COGWA is the natural beneficiary of transfers from LCG, PCG and RCG ...
(As far as LCG goes, that the 6,000 estimate above was low so I called its Charlotte HQ on 12/05/18 and verified that they have a bit over 10,000.)
While size is not an indicator of truth, the truth is that the CCOG has been the fastest growing COG in the 21st century. Growth in size, without doctrinal compromise, is a proper fruit.
Notice something that the old Radio Church of God published:
One of the outstanding fruits of this end-time work is that it has been increasing approximately 30 percent a year in almost every phase of operation. The church of Philadelphia is growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, it is also growing in size and in influence. Are you growing 30 percent a year?
God has given each one of us an "open door" to do His end-time Work. If we are not doing that work, we are not a part of the Philadelphia Church. (Neff L. Are YOU a Philadelphia Christian? Good News, April-May 1966)
The only COG to have have that type of growth in the 21st century has been the Continuing Church of God.
Consider also that the three groups with more congregants than CCOG (UCG, COGWA, LCG) have essentially been slow growing and the other two shown on the post (PCG and RCG) have had substantial losses of congregants in the past 6 or so years.
Unlike UCG, COGWA, and LCG who got the bulk of their members because of a split from another organization (as PCG also somewhat also did–but not as quickly directly as the others did), CCOG did not do that.
Anyway, the only group in the list above to add over 4,000 congregants in the past six years is the Continuing Church of God which began with 5 people on December 28, 2012, and only had dozens a year later. We have between 4500-4900 congregants as of January 2019.
Thus, the only group of the six listed xWCG ones that has the fruits of a prophet is the CCOG (see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God).
Laodiceans, however, refuse to accept that.
They decide (they reason around this).
Many seem to think that anyone can get Africans to come with them, and since CCOG has mainly Africans, this does not count--and they fail to understand Romans 11:25 (see also What About Romans 11:25 and the Full Number of the Gentiles?).
Well, that was basically the same attitude that the Jews had in New Testament times concerning the calling of Gentiles. They did not think that the Gentiles counted.
But the Bible teaches otherwise:
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:27-29)
Anyway, Gentiles were to be called now (Romans 11:25), but many Laodiceans do not seem to fully accept that (see also CCOG's 6 Years and Scriptures Laodiceans Miss).
This may be part of the reason that Jesus does not use the word agape for love of the Laodiceans like He did for other church eras (Revelation 2:4,19), but instead uses a word that can simply mean fondness, fileo (Revelation 3:19).
Why the Laodiceans are Not Part of Philadelphia
Many Laodicean groups, especially those who publicly consider themselves to be Philadelphian and/or the most faithful to HWA's teachings, fail to realize what Jesus taught the main reason was that He condemned the Laodiceans for.
In Jesus' own words notice:
...the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:14-16).
Jesus condemned the Laodiceans for their work. Not just because it was no good (cold), but because it was not hot. They compromised too much and did not take various scriptures to heart!
Was it because the Laodiceans truly continue the work of the Philadelphians? Is it because they place the same priority, the same scriptural and resource emphasis, on continuing the work of the Philadelphia era?
No, to those questions.
Notice also the following:
10 Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully (Jeremiah 48:10)
4 For the word of the Lord is right, And all His work is done in truth. (Psalms 33:4)
The Laodiceans do not properly do the work of God, which is why they are not the group that will lead the final phase of the work and fulfill Matthew 24:14.
Notice, in contrast, what Jesus said to the Philadelphians:
"to the...church in Philadelphia write, 'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name" ' (Revelation 3:7-8).
The Laodiceans have a different work. Yet it is the Philadelphians that continue the Philadelphia work until the end. That is what HWA's COG used to teach:
Philadelphia has little strength to do this great work that God has given it to do. God has opened the door, and yet look how insignificant, how weak, how little strength we as a Church have to do that work...Revelation 3:7-13: "And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write these things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that OPENETH, and no man SHUTTETH; and SHUTTETH and no man openeth." The great door that God has opened to this work is the facility to go into all the world and preach the gospel; the door of radio, the door of the printing press, plus many other such doors. God has set before us an open door and no MAN can shut it. God can shut it, and He will when the work is finished and the Philadelphia Church goes to a place of safety. ...The Laodicean Church is not going to he worthy to escape to a place of safety. When it is too late, they will find that the Church of Philadelphia has gone to safety (What Is the "LAODICEAN CHURCH"? Good News August 1959 Vol. VIII, Number 8).
Notice also that Jesus taught:
18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:18-20)
The Laodiceans do not seem to understand why their primary mission should be to continue the work of proclaiming the whole Gospel to the world as a witness--without doctrinal compromise. Some of them claim to, but without success. Some of them do not even bother to try.
Notice also something from the Old Testament:
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man's all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
God is to be the top priority and He is concerned about the work that people are involved in--Laodiceans do not really get that.
The idea that there would be differences between Christians in the end times has long been known.. Notice some of what the 13th century Roman Catholic Inquisitor Bernard Guidonis claimed he learned from those he persecuted:
Again, they claim that there is a double Antichrist, one spiritual or mystical and the other the real, greater Antichrist... Again, they say that both in the time of persecution by Antichrist and in that of the aforesaid war carnal Christians will be so afflicted that, despairing, they will say, “If Christ were God, he would not permit Christians to suffer so much and such intense evil.” Thus despairing, they will apostacize from the faith and die. But God will hide the elect spiritual individuals so that they cannot be found by Antichrist and his ministers. Then the church will be reduced to the same size as the primitive church when it was first founded. (Bernard Gui: Inquisitor’s Manual, Chapter 5. Translated by David Burr, History Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. http://phi.kenyon.edu/Projects/Margin/inquisit.htm 04/09/07 ).
Notice that there were two groups, the spiritual Christians and the more carnal Christians. Thus, the idea that there was a 'place of safety' for the Philadelphians (the more spiritually elect), as opposed to the more carnal (Laodiceans) was a belief that some who opposed the Church of Rome had many centuries ago It is not a new concept as it was written in Revelation and believed in the past.
Today's Laodiceans Seem to be the Modern Sadducees and Pharisees
Notice this from the Old Testament:
How can you say, 'We are wise, And the law of the Lord is with us'? Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood. The wise men are ashamed, They are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; So what wisdom do they have? (Jeremiah 8:8-9).
The parallels are undeniable. The Maccabeans started out intending to be faithful, but then drifted to become the Sadducees, Pharisees, and others which were apparently not part of the Old Testament Church. Many of those that originally left WCG, left for valid reasons as well, but then drifted. There are many individuals and groups which were once part of WCG which appear to fall into the camp of the Sadducees and Pharisees.
Interestingly, here is something that Herbert Armstrong wrote:
Suppose He had tried to join with, and work with the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the hypocritical Scribes of the days of His earthly Ministry. JESUS DIDN'T DO THAT! He called young men -- fishermen, taxcollectors -- took them into HIS OWN PRIVATE SCHOOL -- so to speak -- taught them the TRUE Gospel God had sent Him to proclaim, trained them for carrying on GOD'S WORK! (Letter, February 1, 1965).
The Pharisees, Sadducees, and many others in Jesus' day, simply would not back doing the work that Jesus wanted done. Sadly, this same situation occurs today.
The core of the problem seems to be pride. Dr. Winnail wrote the following:
Humility—Key to Unity: David wrote, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). The Apostle Paul urged Christians to “walk worthy” of their calling “with all lowliness and gentleness… endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). He stated that the work of the ministry is to edify (build up) the body (the Church) “till we all come to the unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:12-13). Paul also told contentious Corinthians that they should be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). But what causes contentions that disrupt unity? The Scriptures reveal that pride is an underlying cause of contentions (Proverbs 13:10) and that pride will contribute to a person’s downfall and destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Insisting on doing things our own way also causes dissentions and strife (James 4:1). However, humility will eventually bring a person honor (Proverbs 15:33; 29:23) and will promote peace and unity (James 3:17-18). Jesus Christ was of “one mind” with His Father (John 10:30), and He was exalted because He humbled Himself and followed His Father’s instructions (Philippians 2:5-9). As Christians, we are encouraged to be subject to government (within and without the Church) and not to resist authority (Romans 13:1-2), to treat each other with respect, to be humble and not conceited about your own opinions (Romans 12:10-18). (Living Church of God, World Ahead Weekly Update, July 15, 2010).
Since Laodicea essentially means "people decide," people decide that they have their own reasons to not unify to accept proper Philadelphia era governance, prophetic understanding, and priority on doing the work. Pride seems to be a factor for Laodicea. And there was so much pride in the leadership of LCG that the Continuing Church of God had to form (see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God).
The Laodiceans have a major problem with pride (cf. Revelation 3:14-18). Many also are supportive of violent sports (see also Is American Football Evil?).
In Jesus' messages to the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3, the first six start out stating, "And to the angel of the church in...write." However, that differs from the seventh message. Notice what Jesus states there:
14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write (Revelation 3:14)
This message is to the LAODICEANS PLURAL. This strongly supports the view that there would be a lot of Laodicean churches in the end time. One of the main reasons that there is lack of unity amongst those who once were part of the old WCG is that few of them truly felt that they were called to be Philadelphian Christians. Most discounted that, while others have totally misunderstood what it meant to be Philadephian.
Many Laodiceans seem to value the social aspects of church above the spiritual--they are afraid to change as they worry they will lose their circle of friends. Many other Laodiceans believe that there is a point of doctrine that they understand so they do not need to support the real Philadelphian work. Others have various excuses that they persuade themselves are important.
From an outside perspective (only God truly looks at the heart) it appears that most remaining outside of the Continuing Church of God do not seem to feel that they really need "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3) while getting the gospel out as top priority and properly understanding prophecy. Others who claim to do this, sadly, often rely more on traditions of men than the word of God. This will cause them problems and they will have to go through the Great Tribulation if they live long enough.
The Laodiceans are to be Rebuked and Chastened
Unlike other eras of the COG, Jesus has primarily negative statements to the church of the Laodiceans. He has to knock, hoping that some will answer:
18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
The Book of Daniel seems to discuss something similar:
And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined (Daniel 12:9-10).
Notice that Daniel is writing a prophecy for the end time. That is the time of the Laodiceans.
This seems to suggest that the Laodiceans will have to suffer through the great tribulation, unlike the Philadelphians who are promised:
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 3:10).
The Laodiceans need to be rebuked and chastened. Apparently, part of the reason is that since they rejected Jesus' command to persevere and be part of the Philadelphia work. Notice that the promise of protection is ONLY given to the Philadelphians. Perhaps those that repent will have a part of the work during the tribulation (see article Who are The Two Witnesses?).
Those who are in Church of God groups that do not believe that Jesus emphasized public proclamation should also meditate on the following scripture:
30... he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad (Matthew 12:30).
It needs to be pointed out that although Laodiceans seem to believe that they are just like the Philadelphians, that they still are not protected. The Bible makes it clear that simply being a saint will not protect one from the great tribulation:
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).
11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." 12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:11-12).
The Laodiceans do have the testimony of Jesus Christ and do keep the ten commandments. But they simply do not have the same priority on the work as the Philadelphians in fulfilling Matthew 24:14 (see also The Final Phase of the Work). Because the Laodiceans are lukewarm, Jesus does not promise to protect them from the hour on trial, but instead states that He will vomit the unrepentant Laodiceans out!
Who would want that?
The Laodiceans are mainly "the offspring" of the true Philadelphia church. Biblically, it would be logical that the Laodiceans still keep the Sabbath, still observe Passover, still do not teach false doctrines such as the immortality of the soul, etc. But unlike the Philadelphians who are protected, the Laodiceans are not. Jesus allows that dragon to make war upon them!
No wonder Jesus tells them now to repent!
Laodiceans Often Do Not Realize that They Are Not Being Truly Faithful to the Word of God
The Philadelphians do not deny Christ's words (Revelation 3:8) and truly put the Bible above traditions of men. Yet, the Laodiceans have problems that way.
Various groups and semi-groups with origins in the old WCG have come up with doctrines that disagree with the Bible. For details, please see the following:
Comments on the Teachings of Ron Wallen, Philip Neal, Kenneth W., GRUMPS, Jesse Arellano, and others who Profess(ed) that WCG has God's Authority Can one still believe what Herbert W. Armstrong used to teach and still be in WCG? This article addresses this important issue.
Independent Members of the COG: Herbert W. Armstrong Comments, Plus Questions and Answers What did Herbert W. Armstrong teach about being independent of the organized Church? Should independents who claim to accept Herbert W. Armstrong's teachings support the end time Philadelphian work?
Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God This article provides quotes information from the two of the largest groups which had their origins in WCG as well as commentary.
Concerns about Church of God, a Worldwide Association Known as COGWA, this is the largest group that came out of the United Church of God. Here is some history and concerns about it. UCG's former president Clyde Kilough and UK CEO Peter Hawkins are part of it.
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.
In Their Own Words: Doctrinal Differences Between the old United Church of God and the old Global Church of God Older quotes from the leadership and some of the membership of these two organizations are included without added commentary (until the end and the 7/31/98 update) which highlighted some of the differences between them.
Church of God, an International Community (COG aic) This is the group led by David Hulme. It seems to minimize parts of biblical prophecy.
Beware, Doctrinal Compromise is in the Air! Discusses some doctrines that CGCF may have had to change in order to merge with United.
Teachings of the Christian Churches of God This group reject's the deity of Jesus and has other unusual teachings.
Why Not the Restored Church of God? This group, led by David Pack, claims to be the most faithful. The information in this article suggests otherwise. Here is a version in the Spanish language: ¿Por qué no la Iglesia de Dios Restaurada?
It's Not Stedfast This group, was led by Arlen Berkey. It claimed it was the most faithful, but like others had different priorities.
God's Church, Worldwide is another group to claim it is the most faithful, but like others has different priorities.
Intercontinental Church of God ICG was Garner Ted Armstrong's last group; it is now led by Mark Armstrong.
Teachings of the Church of God, International This article focuses on where CGI differs from the old WCG.
Teachings and Practices of Legacy Institute Works mainly in Asia and is led by Leon Sexton. It has various misunderstandings.
Church of God, Southern California This article discusses some of how David Antion's group differs from the old WCG.
Church of God Outreach Ministries This was a CGI spin-off that says it is not a church.
Teachings of the Christian Churches of God This group, led by Wade Cox, reject's the deity of Jesus and has other unusual teachings.
Teachings of Triumph Prophetic Ministries William Dankenbring's ministry--incorrectly speculates on various dates and holds to some odd doctrines.
Concerns About Ronald Weinland's Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God Ronald Weinland falsely claimed to be one of the two witnesses God is raising up, that the Great Tribulation began on December 14, 2008, Jesus would return late September 2011, that Jesus would return on May 27, 2012, and now that Jesus will return on May 19, 2013. Why else does the Bible show that Ron Weinland is a false prophet? He has other views which show he is not part of the Church of God.?
Worldwide Assembly of Yahweh This is what I'd call a sacred name group.
Church of God, In Truth This is what I'd call a calendar group.
Church of the Great God This group, led by John Ritenbaugh, says the bride must first be made ready (it de-emphasizes the priority of public proclamation of the gospel). Might this lead to a selfish bride? This group also seriously seems to misunderstand end-time prophecy.
Error-Ridden James Malm Not Doing an Elijah Work James Malm was one who misunderstood and improperly maligned.
Teachings of Christian Educational Ministries Ron Dart's confederation (not a church).
Christian Renewal Ministries International They teach Hebrew.
Is the Genuine Church of God a Cult? There are misleading statements on the internet that this article tries to address.
Christian Biblical Church of God and its Teachings Fred Coulter's group--they tend to explain conspiracies, calendar issues, and have a "sea of glass" teaching. Plus they produce books on various subjects.
Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God Several have speculated reasons, but here is the truth. (En el idioma español: ¿Por qué Bob Thiel dejó la Iglesia del Dios Viviente?)
Journal Report on Continuing Church of God Leader Bob Thiel Bob Thiel was interviewed by The Journal News of the Churches of God related to him being a prophet, the proclamation goals of the Continuing Church of God, and why he left LCG.
What About the Living Church of God? Are there Doctrinal Differences with the Continuing Church of God? This article explains some information and doctrines of the Living Church of God as led by Roderick C. Meredith and some concerns about them. (En el idioma español: ¿Qué hay acerca de la Iglesia de Dios Viviente? ¿Hay diferencias doctrinales con la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios?)
We in the Continuing Church of God continue to put the word of God above positions or traditions of men and strive to be Philadelphian.
Laodiceans Misunderstand Bible Prophecy
One thing that I have noticed is that the Laodiceans, as well as those of the Sardis Church, misunderstand end time prophecy.
On that Day of Pentecost, here is some of what the Apostle Peter taught:
14 … “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:14b-18)
Most Laodiceans do not accept that God has been doing that.
Those with a partial WCG background should consider that the late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, taught that Acts 2:-17-18 had a future application in a 1981 sermon:
Joel 2:28-29 And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: (29) And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
So there is a time coming when God will start pouring out His spirit on human beings. … Day of Pentecost, 3000 were baptized. Peter preached a sermon. They were pricked in their hearts. God began to draw them. God was now… Remember He said, “I will pour out of my spirit on all flesh.” All right, there’s a duality of that. (Armstrong HW. Building The Temple. Sermon, February 14, 1981)
Herbert W. Armstrong said the was time coming when God would pour out His Spirit. There was a duality to what Peter preached in Acts 2–and that duality is for our current time! (For more on Acts 2:17-18, check out the article Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?)
As far as prophetic misunderstandings in various claimed COG groups that I have personally denounced, here is an abbreviated list:
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, on most of those points, the old WCG taught what I believe that the Bible teaches on them (on the few that it did not, one is consistent with a November 1979 HWA writing and on the others, a former adviser to HWA told me that HWA would have agreed with me on those as well, as one he had not investigated and some others were not issues when he was alive--and, of course, the Bible, and not HWA's opinion, is the standard).
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.
There are also more prophetic differences that other COG groups have from the Bible. The reality is that without the right emphasis on the final phase of the work, holding the Bible in sufficiently high regard, practicing Philadelphian love, and ignoring one anointed like Elisha, the COG groups that ignore prophetic warnings are doing so to their peril.
Laodiceans and others who rely on non-Philadelphian understandings of prophecy will fail to "gather together before the decree is issued" (Zephaniah 2:1; watch also Zephaniah's 'Gather Together' Prophecy), and hence have to go through the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22), as they will not be protected (Zephaniah 2:1-3, Revelation 12:17; see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Near Petra).
While some discount prophecy, notice what Jesus admonished His faithful to do:
35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:35-36)
Are we not a lot closer to the end now than when Jesus stated that? Should you not be watching world events as properly explained in the light of Bible prophecy?
Too many are complacent. The Bible warns against that:
The “sinners in Zion” looks like a reference to Laodicean Christians (Revelation 3:14-19).
9 Rise up, you women who are at ease, Hear my voice; You complacent daughters, Give ear to my speech. 10 In a year and some days You will be troubled, you complacent women; For the vintage will fail, The gathering will not come. 11 Tremble, you women who are at ease; Be troubled, you complacent ones; Strip yourselves, make yourselves bare, And gird sackcloth on your waists. 12 People shall mourn upon their breasts For the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. 13 On the land of my people will come up thorns and briers, Yes, on all the happy homes in the joyous city; 14 Because the palaces will be forsaken, The bustling city will be deserted. The forts and towers will become lairs forever, A joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks — (Isaiah 32:9-14)
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites:
“Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Isaiah 33:14)
Many Laodiceans in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand (and any that may be in the tiny nation of Israel) will apparently also convince themselves that the USA has enough power, so they are safe. Here are two scriptures pointing out the error of that position:
1 Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, And trust in Mount Samaria, (Amos 6:1)
39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain. (Daniel 11:39)
Certain prophecies tie the USA in with Samaria (see Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel and Spiritual Samaritans: Old and New), and notice that the power with the strongest military is going to be conquered--in the 21st century that would be the USA! (See also USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses.)
The various Laodiceans will not properly understand end time prophecy, and that will contribute to them NOT fleeing when they should (cf. Matthew 24:15-21; Revelation 12:14-17).
A video of related interest is titled 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy.
Laodiceans Think They Have More Time Than They Do
The Laodiceans will not heed God's true prophet(s) before the start of the Great Tribulation, nor the two witnesses (which will be prophets) until it is too late.
Notice the following warning:
1 Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together,
O undesirable nation,
2 Before the decree is issued,
Or the day passes like chaff,
Before the Lord's fierce anger comes upon you,
Before the day of the Lord's anger comes upon you!
3 Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth,
Who have upheld His justice.
Seek righteousness, seek humility.
It may be that you will be hidden
In the day of the Lord's anger. (Zephaniah 2:1-3)
Christians are the "undesirable nation" to the world (cf. 2 Peter 2:9-10).
Notice it is those who properly gather together BEFORE the decree (to flee) is given may be protected.
The New Testament warns:
12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:12-19)
Make the right decision today. Be a Philadelphian and be able to enter the rest from the coming hour of trial (Revelation 3:7-13).
The Apostle Paul wrote:
11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:11-14)
It is high time to take action (vs. 11). Support the Philadelphian, not Laodicean, work (vss. 12-13). Do not make carnal excuses (vs. 14).
The NEW TESTAMENT admonishes CHRISTIANS to take action TODAY! Do not wait until it is too late.
Based on Jesus' words (Revelation 3:14-22), the Laodiceans will not respond when they should!
Will you wait until it is too late to be protected from the coming Great Tribulation (cf. Zephaniah 2:1-3; see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Near Petra)?
Yet, There Will Be A Laodicean Work During the Time of the Great Tribulation
The Laodiceans will go into the Great Tribulation--but the disasters will wake most of them (who are not killed before) up!
Consider the following prophesy which will affect God’s the Laodiceans:
26 Disaster will come upon disaster,
And rumor will be upon rumor.
Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; (Ezekiel 7:26)
Since they will be subject to the "hour of trial" that includes the Great Tribulation, the Laodiceans will in essence have one or two works during this time.
Jesus condemns the Church of the Laodiceans because they have a work that is lukewarm and not one that is cold or hot (Revelation 3:14-15). 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 Laodicea seem to be pleased with their lukewarm works, Christ clearly is not--and He will have them change or else (Revelation 3:14-19).
During the tribulation, some of 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. As mentioned before, 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 some of them 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).
Although they do not initially heed them, I also suspect that some of these people will also help the two witnesses during this time as well by providing places to stay, food, and even probably encouragement. Additionally, I believe that the offspring of the church which is subject to persecution will also be providing the testimony of Jesus Christ to some who will respond to the message of the two witnesses as well.
Some will no longer remember the Sabbath (or at least not all of them) or Holy Days because of persecution and other problems:
6 As if it were a garden; He has destroyed His place of assembly; The Lord has caused The appointed feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion. In His burning indignation He has spurned the king and the priest.
7 The Lord has spurned His altar, He has abandoned His sanctuary; He has given up the walls of her palaces Into the hand of the enemy. They have made a noise in the house of the Lord As on the day of a set feast.
8 The Lord has purposed to destroy The wall of the daughter of Zion. He has stretched out a line;He has not withdrawn His hand from destroying; Therefore He has caused the rampart and wall to lament; They languished together.
9 Her gates have sunk into the ground; He has destroyed and broken her bars. Her king and her princes are among the nations; The Law is no more, And her prophets find no vision from the Lord.
10 The elders of the daughter of Zion Sit on the ground and keep silence; They throw dust on their heads And gird themselves with sackcloth. The virgins of Jerusalem Bow their heads to the ground. (Lamentations 2:6-10)
Notice that the Bible shows that ten-horned beast ends up with the remaining saints for that 3 ½ years:
24 The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings. 25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time (Daniel 7:24-25).
1 And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns ... 4 Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" 5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. 6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them (Revelation 13:4-7).
The Bible does teach that the faithful who are killed will be blest (Revelation 14:13). Circumstances suggest that they might, to a degree, help a multitude of people come out this tribulation (cf. Revelation 7:9,14).
So, there will be several works being done by the true Church during the Great Tribulation. However, since Jesus condemns all the remaining Churches in Revelation 2 & 3 at the end, except the Philadelphian portion, then Christians should strive to be Philadelphian in holding fast to true doctrine while also placing their whole beings into supporting the work of that era to complete its mission as taught by Jesus in Matthew 24:14.
Remember that seven times related to the seven Churches of Revelation 2 & 3, Jesus states:
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29:3:6,13,22).
Thus the biblical messages to each of the churches is important for people to heed. People need to ask themselves which church they should support.
Do they want to “persevere” (Revelation 3:10) and support the Philadelphia work? Or do they want to be part of the “people decide” group that Christ will vomit from His mouth (Revelation 3:16)?
ConclusionThe Bible prophesied that there would be people who were part of the Church of God that would feel that that they basically needed nothing. They did not see the need to have to persevere in certain areas, truly be faithful to the word of God, and strongly support the final phase of the work as the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God would be doing.
Since the apostasy in the Worldwide Church of God, people have decided what to do about it. Many have become independent. Many have decided to become part of groups that water-down doctrines held by the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God. Many others have become pharisaical. Nearly all have changed priorities and have also misinterpreted key aspects of end time prophecy. The prophetic changes have been enough so that those who do not share certain prophetic views of the Continuing Church of God will not possibly understand when the Great Tribulation will begin until it is too late.
The bulk of those in the COG who were once part of the WCG or who were called later are now Laodicean. Only a relative few decided to continue to support the work of the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God, as is being led by the Continuing Church of God.
While that does not mean that there cannot be any Laodiceans in Continuing Church of God, it does help show where the Philadelphia mantle resides.
And while the Laodiceans will have some part of the work during the Great Tribulation, it is not a work that Jesus encourages any to be part of it they can avoid it--which is why He tells the Laodiceans to repent or face the consquences (Revelation 3:16-19).
Will you heed Jesus' warnings?
Jesus said He would knock the on the door to the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:20). He did NOT say he would knock their door down to force Laodiceans to change! He said He would knock. Can you accept His knocking?
Jesus also told the Laodiceans to “anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Revelation 3:18). The salve is responding to the work of God’s Spirit as His word teaches would impact the last days (cf. Revelation 3:22). Jesus “advised the spiritually blind Laodiceans to buy eyesalve of Him that they might have spiritual vision” (The Seven Cities of Asia Minor. Study guide for Ambassador College–Worldwide Church of God).
Will you answer Jesus’ criteria in the Bible? Do you have the proper spiritual vision to realize that prophetic dreams were to exist in these last days?
Although Jesus gave many signs (John 2:11; 6:2, 26; 7:31; 9:16; 11:47; 12:37), the religious people of His day apparently wanted different ones:
37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
“Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:37-38)
Jesus denounced those who wanted different signs from Him (Matthew 12:38-39). Laodiceans are unwilling to accept God’s signs–that’s the biblical reality. God does not always show signs the way many seem to think He has to.
The apostles were confirmed by signs that followed them (Mark 16:20) and there have been signs that have confirmed the Continuing Church of God. And the old Radio/Worlwide Church of God pointed to a dream that preceded its formation.
Please accept the criteria that God, not some organization claiming to best represent Him, has set for determining who is a true prophet of God. Do not add non-biblical criteria, which is what most have done.
If you are uncertain about what to do, please be like the Bereans and search “the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11), “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:2-3), and do what God, above what any human, would want you to do (Acts 5:29).
The Continuing Church of God is unique (see How does the Continuing Church of God differ from other Sabbatarian COG groups?). The Continuing Church of God is also the only COG organization with so many of the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18 (see Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?). Would not that be expected of the most faithful remnant of the Philadelphian era in the last days?
What will you do about this?
Want to see more of ancient Laodicea? Then go to Joyces Photos of Laodicea
Previous Church was Philadelphia Next is the Millennium
Back to COGwriter home page Back to Early Christianity Page
B. Thiel, Ph.D. The Laodicean Church Era. www.cogwriter.com (c) 2006 2007 2008/2009/2010/2012/2013/2014/2015/2016/2017/2018/2019/2020 0618
Links of Historical Interest May Include:
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present
The Ephesus Church Era predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D.
The Smyrna Church Era predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D.
The Pergamos Church Era predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D.
The Thyatira Church Era predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D.
The Sardis Church Era predominant circa 1600A.D. to circa 1933 A.D.
The Philadelphia Church Era predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D.
The Laodicean Church Era predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present
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 the 1st through 21st centuries.
Some items of related interest may be:
Laodicean Warning for God's People Is there really a place of safety? Do God's people need to be warned? Warned for what?
CBCG: Christian Biblical Church of God and its Teachings Fred Coulter's group--they tend to explain conspiracies, calendar issues, and have a "sea of glass" teaching. Plus they produce books on various subjects.
CCG: Teachings of the Christian Churches of God This group, led by Wade Cox, rejects the deity of Jesus and has other unusual teachings.
CCOG.ORG Continuing Church of God The Philadelphian organization striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God to fulfill Matthew 24:14, Matthew 28:19-20, and Romans 11:25 with literature in over 100 languages.
CG7.ORG This is a website for those interested in the Sabbath and churches that observe the seventh day Sabbath.
CG7-D: Church of God, (Seventh Day): History and Teachings Nearly all COG's I am aware of trace part of their history through some affiliation with this group. Loren Stacy is the president of the largest CG7 USA group (Denver). Do you know much about them?
CG7-S: Church of God 7th Day, Salem (West Virginia) This group formed by A.N. Dugger in 1933 when he split from the CG7 group he was once president of.
CGCF: Beware, Doctrinal Compromise is in the Air! Discusses some doctrines that CGCF may have had to change in order to merge with United.
CGI: Teachings of the Church of God, International This article focuses on where CGI differs from the old WCG.
CGG: Church of the Great God This group, led by John Ritenbaugh, says the bride must first be made ready (it de-emphasizes the priority of public proclamation of the gospel). Might this lead to a selfish bride? This group also seriously seems to misunderstand end-time prophecy.
CGPKG: Concerns About Ronald Weinland's Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God Ronald Weinland falsely claimed to be one of the two witnesses God is raising up, that the Great Tribulation began on December 14, 2008, Jesus would return late September 2011, that Jesus would return on May 27, 2012, and later that Jesus would return on May 19, 2013. Why else does the Bible show that Ron Weinland is a false prophet? He has other views which show he may not be part of the Church of God.?
CGSC: Church of God, Southern California This article discusses some of how David Antion's group differs from the old WCG.
CEM: Teachings of Christian Educational Ministries The late Ron Dart's former confederation (not a church).
COGaIC: Church of God, an International CommunityThis is the group led by David Hulme. It has minimized parts of biblical prophecy and does not teach church eras.
COGIT: Church of God, In Truth This is what I'd call a calendar group. See also: Calculated or observed calendar?
COGOM: Church of God Outreach Ministries This was a CGI spin-off that says it is not a church.
COGWA: Concerns about Church of God, a Worldwide Association This is the largest group that came out of the United Church of God. Here is some history and concerns about it. UCG's former president Clyde Kilough and UK CEO Peter Hawkins are part of it.
CRMI: Christian Renewal Ministries International They teach Hebrew.
Independent/Unaffiliated: Independent Members of the COG: Herbert W. Armstrong Comments, Plus Questions and Answers What did Herbert W. Armstrong teach about being independent of the organized Church? Should independents who claim to accept Herbert W. Armstrong's teachings support the end time Philadelphian work? Here is a link to a related sermon: Church of God Unity. Watch also Zephaniah's 'Gather Together' Prophecy.
GCG: In Their Own Words: Doctrinal Differences Between the old United Church of God and the old Global Church of God Older quotes from the leadership and some of the membership of these two organizations are included without added commentary (until the end and the 7/31/98 update) which highlighted some of the differences between them.
GCW: God's Church, Worldwide is another group to claim it is the most faithful, but like others has different priorities.
ICG: Intercontinental Church of God This was Garner Ted Armstrong's last group; it is now led by Mark Armstrong.
J7DCG: Jerusalem 7th Day Church of God A sacred name group claiming A.N. Dugger and a Jerusalem headquarters.
LCG: What About the Living Church of God? Are there Doctrinal Differences with the Continuing Church of God? This article explains some information and doctrines of the Living Church of God, now led by Gerald Westin, and some concerns about them. (En el idioma español: ¿Qué hay acerca de la Iglesia de Dios Viviente? ¿Hay diferencias doctrinales con la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios?) See also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God.
Legacy: Teachings and Practices of Legacy Institute Works mainly in Asia and is led by Leon Sexton. It has various misunderstandings.
MCGSD: Meridian Church of God Seventh Day A group that was a split from the old Stanberry COG.
PCG: 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.
RCG: Why Not the Restored Church of God? This group, led by David Pack, claims to be the most faithful. The information in this article suggests otherwise. Here is a version in the Spanish language: ¿Por qué no la Iglesia de Dios Restaurada?
SCG: It's Not Stedfast This group, was led by Arlen Berkey. It claimed it was the most faithful, but like others had different priorities.
Shining Light: Error-Ridden James Malm Not Doing an Elijah Work James Malm was one who misunderstood and improperly maligned.
TPM: Teachings of Triumph Prophetic Ministries William Dankenbring's former ministry--incorrectly speculated on various dates and held to some odd doctrines.
UCG: Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God This article provides quotes information from two of the largest groups which had their origins in WCG as well as commentary.
WAY: Worldwide Assembly of Yahweh This is what I'd call a sacred name group. See also The Bible, Church History, and Sacred Names.
WCG-claimed Adherents: Comments on the Teachings of Ron Wallen, Philip Neal, Kenneth W., GRUMPS, Jesse Arellano, and others who Profess(ed) that WCG has God's Authority Can one still believe what Herbert W. Armstrong used to teach and still be in WCG? This article addresses this important issue.
Links to the above group's websites can be found at COGlinks.