One term that has particular meaning to the true Church of God is “the Work.” As a young person supporting that very Work, how much consideration have you given to what that Work is?
In simplest terms, God’s Church delivers the gospel: the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. That may sound obvious to you, but it is one of the key signs that identifies God’s true Church. Many millions of people—and over 34,000 separate denominations—call themselves “Christian,” but they preach a message about Christ, not the message He brought.
How can we know what the true gospel is? How can we know the Philadelphia Church of God is the entity God is using to deliver it? And what else has God instructed His Church to do in this end time? What is the commission of the Philadelphia Church of God today?
Grab your Bible, some notebook paper and a pen or pencil, and learn the answers to these profoundly important questions!
The Work of the Church
1. What has the Work of the Church been throughout the ages? Mark 16:15; Luke 9:1-2, 6; Acts 8:25; 16:10.
From the beginning of Christ’s ministry until today, God’s true Work has had a vital job to do—a commission to fulfill—and it comes straight from God’s Word. The purpose for which Christ established the Church is to do the Work. And throughout the ages, the Work of the Church has been to preach the gospel.
2. What is this gospel that Christ commanded His disciples to preach? Mark 1:14-15.
The gospel that Christ preached—and thus the gospel that He commanded His disciples to preach—was the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. The gospel was not focused on Him—it was focused on His message. And His message was a hope-filled one about His Second Coming, when He would return to restore the government of God to Earth, bringing eternal peace and happiness with Him.
That is the message that God’s true Church proclaims to this day. To find God’s Church, you must find the group that preaches the true gospel.
3. What are the two arms of the Church’s commission—its Work? Matthew 24:14; Mark 1:14-15; John 21:16-17; 1 Peter 5:2.
The Work is a spiritual work. Through the New Testament, Christ shows us the purpose of the Work of God is twofold: 1) to proclaim to the world, for a warning witness, the good news of the coming Kingdom of God; 2) to nurture the Church—to “feed the flock.” Members in God’s true Church have been and are being taught and trained for governmental positions in the very Kingdom of God that the gospel pertains to.
Revelation 2-3 explain that there have been seven successive eras of the true Church since its inception. These seven eras were named after seven actual congregations in Asia Minor in the first century, located in successive order along a long mail route. Those two chapters of the Bible show the progressive history of the Church from its founding all the way up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
The Ephesus church was the first, followed by Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. For more in-depth information about each of these Church eras, request a free copy of The True History of God’s True Church.
The Church in the First Century
1. During the Ephesian era, were there large congregations for the apostles to speak to, or did the church congregations consist of small groups? Acts 16:12-13. How large was the Church initially? Acts 1:15.
In the early apostolic days, the Work of God was accomplished by only a few. The gospel was proclaimed to the world exclusively by the apostles and evangelists. Those proclaiming it went forth by foot, donkey, horse, rowboat or sailboat. There was no radio, tv, Internet or other such modern methods of communication. The only way to communicate was orally or by handwritten letters, carried on foot or by boat. The gospel traveled slowly.
2. After some years, Peter and most of the original 12 apostles seemingly disappeared from view. Why? Matthew 10:6; 15:24.
Jesus Christ sent the original 12 apostles to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” who were then located in Asia Minor, Western Europe and Britain. They were “lost” in identity—and lost spiritually—because they had failed to keep God’s Commandments and preserve His truth. The apostles were sent to preach the true gospel to them.
3. After only 20 years of existence, was the gospel of the Kingdom of God suppressed and superseded by another, false gospel? Galatians 1:6-7; Matthew 24:4-5; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15.
By a.d. 70, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, the dispensation of the true gospel to the world had virtually ceased. Enemies of the true Church had begun to persecute the Work. A fierce controversy arose as to whether the gospel was about Christ or Christ’s message. A great false church rose to teach a false gospel about the person of Christ. From that time, a spurious gospel was preached in the name of traditional Christianity, by which Satan deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). This is the same gospel that all of those denominations of modern-day Christianity preach today! Therefore, we know that those churches cannot be the true Church.
For 1,900 years, the gospel Christ proclaimed was suppressed. The true Church became small, scattered and persecuted—yet it prevailed. It continued, underground, often meeting secretly.
Today, the Church functions in a vastly different and highly complex and mechanized world. Accordingly, modern conditions have necessitated different procedures and methods of operation. Let’s take a look at modern Church history next.
The Church in the Philadelphian Era
1. Which era of the true Church was present in the early 1900s? Revelation 3:1-6.
As stated previously, the Church had gone underground for nearly two millennia. During the 1920s, the true Church of God existed only as a tiny remnant of believers who held fast to some of the original doctrines of Christ. They were nearly powerless spiritually, yet they had more biblical truth than any other church at that time. This Sardis era of the Church had the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17), and they also had the right name (John 17:11)—but they were small and pitifully weak.
At that time, the Church was not fulfilling the commission Christ had given it to do: They were not actively proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Instead, they tended to a small flock of believers.
2. During the years of the Sardis era, did Jesus Christ set apart, prepare and call one man—Herbert W. Armstrong—to revive and lead the Church of God in the Philadelphia era? Zechariah 4:9; Revelation 3:7.
Christ led the Philadelphia era in the same way He led Old Testament Israel and the New Testament Church—through one man. In June 1931—exactly 1,900 years to the month after the first apostles were empowered by God’s Holy Spirit—Herbert W. Armstrong was ordained as a minister of God. After founding a fledgling church in Eugene, Oregon, he began preaching the true gospel over radio stations on the West Coast of the United States in January 1934. In February, he launched the Plain Truth magazine—then only a mimeographed bulletin with a tiny subscription list. God started small through Mr. Armstrong—as He always does through men—but the Work soon grew into a worldwide endeavor.
3. Was Mr. Armstrong the human leader that God used to “restore all things” to the true Church and “prepare the way” for our Messiah? Matthew 17:10-11; Malachi 3:1. Was he commissioned by God to preach the gospel around the world? Matthew 24:14.
By the power of God, Mr. Armstrong became recognized and respected by leaders in government, industry and education around the world. Until the time of his death in January 1986, he remained pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God and editor in chief of the Plain Truth magazine. He was a pioneer in religious broadcasting. Millions around the world heard his voice on The World Tomorrow radio and television program. In 1947, he founded Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. He was also founder and chairman of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, known for its cultural, charitable and humanitarian activities.
Mr. Armstrong visited more than 70 countries, where he proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom of God—just like the original apostles, but on a much larger scale. He was highly honored by heads of state in such critical areas as Japan, China, Africa, Israel and Egypt. Even in his 90s, he continued to write, broadcast and preach the good news that God will intervene to save mankind. Among his many books are The United States and Britain in Prophecy and his final work, completed just months before his death, Mystery of the Ages.
For more details on the life and work of Mr. Armstrong, order the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong. The fruits of his 54-year-long ministry prove that Mr. Armstrong was God’s man (Matthew 7:16, 20). He was the physical leader of God’s true Church in the Philadelphia era. Thus, those who followed in his footsteps after he died must also be the true Church of God.
The Great Apostasy
1. What happened after Mr. Armstrong died? 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Galatians 1:6-7.
After Mr. Armstrong died, the Worldwide Church of God posthumously denounced him as a heretic and rejected all of his teachings—including the true gospel. This happened subtly over several years. In the first sermon given by the new pastor general after Mr. Armstrong’s death, he changed the reference scripture for the commission of the Church from Matthew 24:14—the scripture that Mr. Armstrong repeatedly referred to—to Matthew 28:19-20.
In January of 1989, the wcg published a new booklet titled Who Was Jesus? This booklet was released shortly after the wcg discontinued Mystery of the Ages. Mystery of the Ages was all about Christ’s message—the gospel. Who Was Jesus?, however, was all about the person of Christ. Thetruegospel was being replaced by a counterfeit, much like the Church experienced in the first century. The true gospel was one of the first doctrines to go, but eventually, all of the doctrines that God revealed through Mr. Armstrong were rejected.
As a result, Church membership plummeted. More than 70 percent of Church members were driven out or excommunicated from the Worldwide Church of God due to these sweeping doctrinal changes.
2. Because of this rebellion, did God leave His sanctuary—the Worldwide Church of God—and move His lamp to a Church that held fast to His truth? Ezekiel 8:4-6; Revelation 2:5.
Because the Ephesian era did not hold fast, God moved His lamp to the Smyrna era. The same thing happened in transition between the Philadelphian era and the final era of God’s Church—the Laodicean era. God left His disloyal people. Where did He go?
The Church in the Laodicean Era
1. Did God stay with the members who left the wcg in order to stay loyal to Him and His truth? 1 John 2:18-19.
When the changes were in their early stages, Gerald Flurry, an ordained wcg minister since 1973, became alarmed and plunged into an intensive study of the Bible to find the cause of the betrayal he was witnessing. The result of his studies was a book titled Malachi’s Message to God’s Church Today, which proves that the Worldwide Church of God was prophesied to fall away millennia ago.
In December of 1989, nearly four years after Mr. Armstrong’s death, Mr. Flurry was excommunicated from the wcg for continuing to believe and teach what Mr. Armstrong taught and for writing Malachi’s Message. After he was fired, Mr. Flurry was inspired to establish the Philadelphia Church of God. It started humbly and small—as God always starts His Work through humans—with only 12 members.
To this day, the pcg is not a wealthy, multimillion-member church, yet it carries on a great, worldwide work. Through the Key of David program, the Philadelphia Trumpet, theTrumpet.com, kpcg.fm and other forms of media, the pcg is reaching hundreds of thousands of people with the inspired message of the way of life that is the cause of all good—of love, peace, happiness, prosperity, abundant well-being. It is preaching the gospel to the world, just like God’s true Church has done for thousands of years. All of this is abundant proof that the Philadelphia Church of God truly is God’s Church.
The Commission of the PCG
1. What is the pcg’s specific commission in this final era? Revelation 10:11. What is it prophesying about? Amos 3:8, 12; Matthew 24:21-22.
The entire chapter of Revelation 10 speaks about the commission of the Philadelphia Church of God, which is slightly different from the commission God gave the Worldwide Church of God during the Philadelphian era. The specific wording of the commission is in verse 11. Although the pcg still preaches the gospel as God’s Church has always done, its message is primarily one of warning to many peoples and nations.
Remember, this is in the final era of God’s Church before Jesus Christ’s return—and preceding Christ’s return will be the worst suffering that man has ever experienced. The fact that the pcg is in the final era of God’s Church means that this suffering is almost here—and that the Church must warn the world about it!
2. Is God working through a specific man to complete this warning work? Ezekiel 33:7. Is God’s watchman obligated to warn the world? Verses 3-4, 7-9. Is he supposed to warn the world even though they will not heed the warning today? Verses 30-33.
If the watchman sees the sword come upon the land and does not warn, then the blood of the people will be on his head. This applies to the people who support the watchman as well. Mr. Armstrong did warn Israel, but it was not to the extent that Mr. Flurry does today—he did not see the sword coming as Mr. Flurry and the members of the pcg do today.
3. Does the pcg also warn God’s own rebellious people—the ones who fell away during the great apostasy? Revelation 3:20. If the Laodiceans heed the warning and allow Christ back into their lives, will they receive a great reward? Verse 21.
The “knock” is primarily done through Malachi’s Message, which carries a strong warning for all of the Laodicean brethren—and specifically the ministry—in this end time. Order a copy of the book for a better understanding of that warning message.
Small, Yet Powerful
The Philadelphia Church of God is an extension of the same Church that was raised up by Jesus Christ through Mr. Armstrong nearly 85 years ago. It preaches the same gospel message that Jesus preached almost 2,000 years ago, and it warns the world in the very last days. It is the only organization in existence today that adheres to God’s form of government and follows and preaches the teachings restored by Mr. Armstrong. If we judge by the fruits, as Jesus Christ commands us to do in Matthew 7:16 and 20, we have positive proof that the Philadelphia Church of God is God’s one true Church, with God’s one true gospel message.
It is a Church with little strength—a Work that is supported by only a small number of faithful members—but it has faithfully kept the Word of God, and it has not denied God’s authority (Revelation 3:8). Christ promises to set before that small Church an open door to preach the gospel until the present Work of the Church is completed.
When it is completed, Jesus Christ will return and usher in the same Kingdom of God that the gospel revolves around today. If you are faithful and fervent in supporting the Church’s Work to proclaim that gospel message, then you will be a part of that soon coming Kingdom!