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God even raised Mr. Armstrong up from total heart failure to complete the greatest part of all this wondrous work (1979-86)—exactly at the pivotal moment to defeat the seventies “liberal” movement, then literally only months away from largely taking over the Church—the same apostate doctrine that infects the Church today.
Conversely, we have all now seen approximately twenty-four years of the “fruit” of various “successors” to Mr. Armstrong (starting with the Tkaches), who claim “new understanding,” “doctrinal correction,” and in most cases claim “less onerous, more loving, more balanced spiritual judgment.” As noted earlier, most of these “successors” also have fed God's people doctrinal “fruit” that came from indisputably “bad trees.” Consider in this regard the prophecy of end time apostate teachers in II Pet. 2:19, “While they promise them [God's people] liberty, they themselves are [servants] of corruption.”
The “work” of all the splinter organizations combined only constitutes “a drop in the bucket” compared to what God did through Mr. Armstrong. As the individual leaders all teach (either overtly or by obvious implication) that their rivals are spiritually illegitimate or misguided, God's people whom Mr. Armstrong left unified, are divided into a variety of organizations and an untold number of “home” congregations. Consider the prophecy of end time apostasy in Jude 19, “These are sensual persons [false teachers] who cause divisions [among God's people].” Ironically, each splinter organization's specific grounds for criticizing the record of its rivals are generally valid Biblically and factually.
It is a very telling “fruit” of the various “successors” that not one of them is considered legitimate by anything like a majority of God's people today; even the present leaders of the largest organization are considered illegitimate/wrong by a significant “voting bloc” of their own church, plus everybody else. Yet if any organization were approved by God, it would by now have received great power from God and fruits many of God's people could recognize. The vast majority of the sheep would “hear their shepherd's voice” and unite under Christ's human shepherd (John 10:3-5, 14); Christ's servants who by grace have found the right way in this chaos have a duty to “seek the straying sheep” (Ezek. 34) instead of just saving themselves. Mr. Armstrong faced several serious rebellions and challenges to his office, but the vast majority of the people always recognized Christ's leadership in him, even when the Church sank rather deeply into the “Laodicean condition” in the seventies.
Having given us the sure test for distinguishing true apostles from false through the Church ages, Christ gave us in Biblical prophecy a clear answer to the pivotal question posed earlier herein: the question of whether the end time apostle's doctrines and spiritual judgments can be unfailingly relied upon to “pass” the great test prophesied to come upon the end time Church. The books of II Thessalonians, II Timothy, II Peter, I and II John, and Jude prophesy extensively of this great test upon the end time Church; these apostles apparently did not know the end time test (like Christ's return) was very far off, but in fact the Ephesus era suffered a type of the same test, which climaxed after the apostles died. Recall that Mr. Armstrong revealed the Bible was written primarily for the Philadelphia era of God's Church, such that much of the Bible's prophecy about the Church is for our time.