Mr. Armstrong warned repeatedly in his last few years of a great test coming upon the Church—a test of whether we had grown in grace, understanding and character enough that we loved the Truth (consider II Thessalonians 2:10-12); knowing the Truth was not enough.  He said only by such growth could we hold fast when tested by Church crisis and/or persuasive teachers preaching contrary to the Truth; he also warned that the “Laodicean condition” hinders or even stunts such vital growth in those affected by it.


For the sake of the test, God did not reveal to Mr. Armstrong who would come in the power of Satan spearheading the temptation.  He thought it might be Garner Ted from the outside, but he also had concerns about how all the evangelists would do once he wasn't around any longer to supervise them.  He knew that even if the temptation came from the outside it would certainly be empowered and given credibility by ministers and officials on the inside allying with the false teacher, just as originally loyal ministers and officials had betrayed the Truth in earlier apostasies and rebellions.  Also Mr. Armstrong was very concerned about what would happen to the man he chose to succeed him because he knew that man would then become Satan's target with an intensity he had never been required to withstand before.


Mr. Armstrong agonized over the question of his successor because of individual concerns he had about each of the evangelists.  He believed God would give His people a faithful leader to complete the Work and help them become “accounted worthy to escape”—which is why he said to follow that leader as if our spiritual life depended upon it in his last sermon, fervently praying the one he appointed would succeed. However, he also knew it was possible the one he appointed would disqualify himself in the great test, and someone else would have to be appointed later by God.  Mr. Armstrong alluded to this possibility in his prayer at the January 7, 1986, meeting in which he formalized Mr. Tkach's appointment, referring enigmatically to the Laodicean condition's possible rapid advance following his death (it appears no one really understood what Mr. Armstrong meant at the time).  Assumed as a given by Mr. Armstrong in his statement about following the leader was his oft-repeated teaching that the leader should be followed only “as he follows Christ,” and that no one following Christ would reject God's law or the Truth God had restored through Mr. Armstrong's commission.


Mr. Armstrong specifically refused to ordain Mr. Tkach to the office of apostle, saying that could only be done by Christ Himself—with demonstrations of the fruits and power of the office only Christ could give.  Mr. Armstrong also believed withholding this office was vitally important to his concerns just described regarding the unique temptation his successor would face, and to the fact that his successor's role was to help the Church hold fast what God had already restored, not to replace/correct that doctrine.


Yet after about a year in office Mr. Tkach took to himself the title of apostle.  This was open rebellion on a key point of God's government (he had already rebelled on a couple of less fundamental governmental issues).  Before the whole Church he defied Mr. Armstrong's authority as a proven apostle: again, since the authority of an apostle is Christ's in a unique way (Heb. 3:1), it does not die when the man dies. Mr. Armstrong commanded Mr. Tkach and other evangelists/officials to this effect in his last months, telling them the doctrine he had learned from Christ step by step, trial by trial, with progressive addition and correction over the years, was the authoritative doctrine God commanded His Church to hold fast to after his death—the completion of his commission to restore all things.  It is no coincidence that shortly after he rebelled on the question of his office, Mr. Tkach also approved the first doctrinal changes; before that time he had actually refused (apparently sincerely) at least two proposed “liberalizations” of important spiritual judgments made by Mr. Armstrong.