In the first three installments of this series, we discussed our belief in the infallibility of the Holy Scriptures; our doctrinal foundation; and our Church government. We also emphasized that while the Church of God is a spiritual organism, this fact does not exclude the necessity of physical organizations. In that context, we showed the importance of the Church’s correct biblical name. We also began to explain Christ’s commission to His Church; that is, to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations as a witness. We showed what is meant with the terms, “gospel,” “the kingdom of God,” “to all nations”, and “as a witness.” In this installment, we will address another aspect of the Church’s commission; i.e., to warn the nations.
To reiterate, our Statement of Beliefs points out under “The Church’s Commission”:
“We believe that it is the Church’s commission to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations as a witness, to warn all nations, and especially the lost tribes of the house of Israel (mainly in the United States, Great Britain, certain Commonwealth nations and nations in Northwestern Europe) of impending danger, and to feed the flock of Christ—the Church—spiritually and physically.”
Part of the gospel message is a warning proclamation. It is the responsibility of the Church of God to warn all nations of impending danger (Isaiah 34:1-3), especially the lost tribes of the house of Israel (Ezekiel 3:17-21; 33:2-11). This emphasis on the house of Israel is placed as God had chosen them to be a good example to the rest of the world, but they have miserably failed in this regard (Exodus 19:5-6; Ezekiel 20:5-32). So, God will deal with them first, and they will require to hear a warning before He does. But a specific warning must also go out to all nations, because God will deal with them subsequently (Isaiah 24:5-6; 28:22). In addition, a warning message must even go out to members and prospective members of the Church of God (Colossians 1:28; Acts 20:31; 1 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:14).
In order to warn the nations of the house of Israel (and, by extension, the modern house of Judah), it is necessary to know who they are today. This knowledge is one of the distinguishing signs showing the difference between the Church of God and most other church groups, who do not know anything about the modern tribes of the house of Israel; who and where they are; and that a warning message must be given to them today, prior to Christ’s return. As we state in our Statement of Beliefs, the lost tribes of the house of Israel can be found today in the USA (where we find descendants of Manasseh, the first-born son of Joseph and grandson of Jacob or Israel); the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa (all descendants of Ephraim, the second son of Joseph); parts of France (descendants of Reuben, Jacob’s first-born son); Denmark and Ireland (descendants of Dan, one of Jacob’s twelve sons); Norway and Iceland (descendants of Benjamin, another one of Jacob’s twelve sons); The Netherlands (descendants of Zebulon, one of Jacob’s twelve sons); Finland (descendants of Issachar, one of Jacob’s twelve sons); Switzerland (descendants of Gad, one of Jacob’s twelve sons); Belgium and Luxembourg (descendants of Asher, one of Jacob’s twelve sons); and Sweden (descendants of Naphtali, one of Jacob’s twelve sons). In addition, modern descendants of Jacob’s son Levi might be found today in Wales; and descendants of Simeon and Levi might also be found in Scotland. Furthermore, a warning message must go out to the modern descendants of the house of Judah—the Jewish people.
But as we said, the warning message must also be given to non-Israelite peoples as well, which would include powerful nations such as Germany and Austria (modern Assyria); Italy (in part descendants of the ancient Chaldeans and Babylonians); and countries such as Russia, China, Japan, India, nations in the Middle East, Africa and South America. It will remain to be seen whether and to what extent such a warning will reach some of the non-Israelite or “Gentile” nations prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation.
In addition, the message must be proclaimed about what is prophesied for the descendants of the house of Israel and the entire world if the warning is not heeded. God’s Church is able to announce this, as Christ leads and inspires it, and Christ’s Spirit is a spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10; compare Amos 3:7-8; John 16:13; Isaiah 44:26; 1 Corinthians 13:2).
To be clear, the warning message must precede the time of the beginning of the Great Tribulation (which will NOT last longer than 3 ½ years; there is NO reference in the Bible saying that it would last for seven years) and of the Day of the Lord (which may last for about 1 year, compare Isaiah 34:8; 61:2; 63:4, equating a day with a year, beginning no later than about 2 ½ years after the start of the Great Tribulation). It is true that the warning message will continue to be given during those times, especially through the testimony and prophecies of the “two witnesses” (Revelation 11:3-6). Finally, when the two witnesses have completed their testimony, they will be killed in Jerusalem (showing that they are human beings and not angels), and after 3 ½ days they will be resurrected to immortal life as God beings in the Kingdom of God (Revelation 11:7-13). This resurrection will be part of the first resurrection, when all true Christians will enter eternal life and meet the returning Christ in the air, on clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), to descend together on that same day to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4-5). The Bible does not teach, nor do we believe, that the returning Christ and His resurrected saints, who will be meeting Him in the air, will ascend to Heaven and then return to this earth at a later time.
Today’s warning message of the Church is directed especially at the tribes of the house of Israel, as well as the Jewish people, who will both be defeated in war and either killed or enslaved. This will occur at and constitute the very beginning of the Great Tribulation which can also be described as Satan’s wrath against Israel (Luke 21:20-24). And yes, it is prophesied that Satan’s wrath will also be directed at the same time against God’s Church—spiritual Israel—and a martyrdom will occur for many of God’s people (Revelation 6:9-11; 7:13-14; 12:12, 17). Other members of the true Church of God will be protected during that time at a physical location or “place of safety” here on earth (Revelation 12:13-16; 3:10). The Bible might give some indication as to how God’s people who are worthy of protection will reach this place of safety, but it is useless to prepare for it in a physical way or contemplate where it might be and how to get there, as God will “work out the specifics.”
As we stated, the warning message must also go out to all nations who will be involved, either directly or indirectly, with attacking Israel (Zechariah 14:2-3, 12-15), and even though God had decreed that Israel and Judah are to be punished, this does not make Israel’s enemies any more righteous (Habakkuk 1:13). While at the very end all nations (including Russia and China) will be involved in attacking Jerusalem, the original onslaught will occur through ten European nations or groups of nations (Daniel 2:40-44; Revelation 17:12-13) under the leadership of a charismatic political military leader, the “beast,” who will work together with a worldwide religious system, “Babylon the Great,” under their religious leader, the “false prophet.”
The Church of God understands and believes that the confederacy of ten European nations or groups of nations will occur under “Assyrian” leadership (Isaiah 10:5-7, 12, 24-25; 30:30-33; 31:8-9). The future “King of Assyria” is also identified as “King Jareb,” the “king of the North” and the “beast.” This coming European power bloc will fight a nuclear war against America and Great Britain, leading to the destruction of all major cities in those countries (Ezekiel 6:6). The Church of God has proclaimed for a long time that Germany (who was defeated in World War II and which became subsequently divided in East and West Germany) would unite and become the most powerful nation in Europe; that Great Britain would ultimately leave the EU, while Italy would not leave; that the euro would stay; that Europe would build a powerful army; and that the relationship between the USA and Europe, especially Germany, would deteriorate.
We understand that the European religious system has nothing to do with Islam, but that it is a false belief and practice of Christianity which is described as a fallen woman, as she and her daughters fell away from true and pure Christianity (Revelation 17:1-6, 15, 18; 18:23-24). We also understand that this religious system has been working together with the European political system for many centuries, known as “revivals of the ancient Holy Roman Empire,” under Justinian; Charles the Great; Otto the Great; Charles V; Napoleon; and Hitler and Mussolini. None of that can be said in any way about Islam, which played no role in the above-mentioned revivals and which did not depart from true Christianity. In fact, it never knew nor accepted true Christianity to begin with.
We also understand that just prior to Christ’s return, the false prophet or the man of sin will occupy the future temple of God in Jerusalem, claiming to be God, and that this will occur at the time of an end-time falling away from the biblical truth (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). As the religious Babylonian system did not teach or preach the truth for almost two thousand years, it is clear that the falling away cannot and does not refer to the Babylonian system which grows and is getting “bigger,” but that it must refer to a falling away of true Christians from the biblical truth. This, in turn, sheds some light on the fact that God will allow a final martyrdom against some of His people (Daniel 7:25-27; Revelation 13:7), in order to wake them up and make them realize their lack of zeal for His Law and His Work, or even their temporary departure from God’s Way which they once understood and lived.
We also know from the Bible that the last revival of the ancient Roman Empire will at first temporarily collaborate, to an extent, with Arab nations and Turkey against Israel (Psalm 83:1-8). However, there is no biblical suggestion that a seven-year contract will be entered into between the “beast” and Arab nations, which would be broken after 3 ½ years. The passage which is sometimes quoted for this proposition—Daniel 9:27—does not refer to such an end-time physical covenant, but to the death of Jesus Christ in the middle of the week (Wednesday, when He was crucified) after His 3 ½ year-long public ministry, thereby doing away with or “bringing to an end” the sacrificial system and confirming the spiritual New Covenant with His people for one prophetic week or seven years (The remaining 3 ½ years of His seven year-long ministry Christ will fulfill when He returns). It is revealed however that the European invasion of the Holy Land will occur when animal sacrifices will be brought there by the Jews, apparently during or after the completed construction of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount (Daniel 8:11-14; 11:31; 12:11-12).
And so, God will proceed punishing the “Gentile” nations and especially the “beast power” during the Day of the Lord, and the two witnesses and those supporting them will continue the warning during that time, which will be directed to all the nations (Revelation 8:13; 14:6-11), as well as to those Israelites who have survived the nuclear attacks and are by then prisoners in concentration camps or slave laborers in areas occupied by the modern Roman Empire.
The warning message to be proclaimed has to do with the need to change; to repent of sin (Revelation 9:20-21; 16:9-11) and turn to righteousness. This world does not seem to know what sin is. Especially the so-called “Christian” world believes the lie that “grace” somehow supersedes the need to keep God’s Law.
In our Statement of Beliefs, we say under “Law, Sin and Love”:
“We believe that sin is the transgression of the Law, and hence we strive to keep the Law as summed up in the word, ‘love’ (Romans 13:10). Love involves two great principles of love towards God and love towards neighbor. The Ten Commandments compose the ten points of the Law (Matthew 22:37-39; James 2:8-11).”
We do not believe by any means that Jesus came to abolish the Law of God or fulfill it for us so that we do not have to keep it anymore. Sin is the transgression of the spiritual Law (1 John 3:4 in the Authorized Version; compare Romans 7:14); that is, the Ten Commandments and the statutes and judgments, explaining the Ten Commandments even further. It is true that Jesus did away with the sacrificial system of washings and rites, and therefore, the Church of God strongly rejects any attempts by “Christian” groups to uphold and teach superseded Old Testament temporary laws, including ritual washings, animal sacrifices or physical circumcision (compare Galatians 5:2). On the other hand, Christ made very clear that we must keep the commandments of the spiritual Law (1 John 2:4; 5:3; 2 John 6, 10), and James clarified that when we break one of the Ten Commandments, we are guilty of having broken them all (James 2:8-12). The concept of grace does not teach us something differently.
We state in our Statement of Beliefs under “Grace and Works”:
“We believe that true Christians are saved by God’s grace, not according to their works (Ephesians 2:8-9), but that their reward is dependent on the good works they perform (Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12).”
Christ died for us to forgive us our sins and pay the penalty for our sins, which is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Christ did this because of grace or unmerited pardon; we did not do anything which compelled Christ to die for us; we did not deserve His death for us. Nothing that we did made us worthy of Christ’s death. At the same time, accepting His Sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins does not mean that we can now trample Him underfoot and spit at Him by ignoring and violating God’s Law. Grace is not a license to sin (Jude 4). After we have received forgiveness of our past sins by grace, we are obligated to live righteously now; that is, we must avoid sin with all our might so that the righteousness demanded by the Law can be fulfilled in us (Romans 8:3-4). At the same time, we know that we cannot be victorious on our own, but that it must be Jesus Christ living in us through the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20); Christ empowers us to overcome our evil human carnal nature, this sin-stricken world and Satan the Devil. The idea that we can sin so that grace may abound is strongly condemned in the Bible (Romans 6:1-2).
As true Christians, we will show through our good works—how we live—that we are in God’s eyes “counted worthy” of protection and eternal life (Luke 21:36; 20:35). It is Christ in us who makes us worthy when we follow His lead and submit to Him. Christ gave His Church a work to do—the work of proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom in all the world as a witness. And the degree of our reward (not eternal life which will be granted us as a free gift) is indeed dependent upon how well we are doing with what we have been given (1 Corinthians 3:8; 2 John 8; Revelation 22:12).
Why then do so many professing Christians believe the lie that Christ came to abolish the Law and that we are “saved” once and for all, no matter how we live? The answer is that the whole world is deceived. And it is Satan and his demons who are responsible for this worldwide deception (Revelation 12:9; 16:14; compare also 1 John 4:1; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15; 1 Timothy 4:1).
We understand that this is not God’s world, but that Satan and his demons are the rulers of this world (Ephesians 6:12). We say in our Statement of Beliefs, under “Angels”:
“We believe in the existence of holy angels, who faithfully serve God. We also believe that there are ‘fallen’ angels who are in rebellion to God, and who are referred to in Scripture as Satan and his demons.”
The fact that this is not God’s world and that it is under Satan’s dominion does not mean that we are therefore permitted or obligated to rebel against the human rule of the country we might be living in. At the same time, we must not participate in any activity which is against God’s Law.
To explain this sometimes delicate balance, we state this in our Statement of Beliefs, under “Civic Government”:
“We believe that we are to be subject to the government of our country and its laws (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Peter 2:13-17); that we are to pay our taxes (Matthew 22:17-21; Mark 12:14-17; Romans 13:6-7); that we are to pray for leaders of government (1 Timothy 2:1-3); and that we are to honor those leaders (1 Peter 2:17; Romans 13:7).”
At the same time, we also state this in our Statement of Beliefs, under “Relationship with God”:
“We believe that a Christian’s duty to God is of a superior and higher nature than our duty arising from any human relationship (Acts 4:18-20; 5:27-29). We therefore, following biblical commands and principles, do not participate in voting for national elections or jury duty, and we do not join the military. On the other hand, we do not object to participation in civil service. If compelled by governments to enlist, we refuse to serve in any capacity that would violate the spirit of the sixth commandment against murder (Exodus 20:13; Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 12:17-21).”
Taking these passages together, we do not believe that we ought to resort to any violence against any governmental regime or rulership. Nor should we participate in wars or in any violent activity against anyone, foreign and domestic. We ought to pray for the leaders of our human government and honor and submit to those leaders (unless their directives violate God’s supreme Law), so that we, the people of God, can live a “quiet and peaceable life” (1 Timothy 2:2) and fulfill our commission to preach God’s gospel—the gospel of the Kingdom of God—to all nations, which includes a warning message to this sinful world, placing it on notice that this present evil world (Galatians 1:4) will end soon and that it will be replaced by a better world; “the world to come” (Hebrews 2:5); the wonderful world tomorrow; a truly peaceful Paradise here on earth.
We trust that by now you have already seen many defining differences between us and most other Christian groups or organizations. But much more will be discussed and revealed.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link