Is the church finished preaching the gospel?
Is this a silly question – Not for some. Is this a big deal – YES!
Several organizations (split-offs from the Worldwide Church of God) are saying that we don’t need to preach the Gospel of the soon coming Kingdom of God any more.
It is not that they are saying that the “Work” is over just half of the commission is:
There are some that believe that this is not necessary, that what we have called the Great two-fold commission of the church that Christ gave is no longer valid.
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Matthew 28:19 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,
Matthew 28:20 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.” Amen.
This is a commission to the church throughout all time! It was also for those afterwards who were not witnesses of these things, saying to them by My authority “Go!”
Luke 24:47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
All aspects of the Gospel are to be preached in every nation
Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. [to all creation: mankind]
Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
All aspects of the Gospel are to be preached to everyone
Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Acts 1:7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Christ is saying don’t worry about when I will bring the Kingdom of God to earth, but rather focus on being a witness to the ends of the earth!
Then after that the end will come we are to continue preaching until the end, THEN Christ will return:
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Notice that Paul says that the Gospel did go out the known world at that time:
Romans 10:13 For “WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.”
Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
Romans 10:15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE [not were, but still are presently] THE FEET OF THOSE WHO PREACH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE, WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!”
Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?”
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.[by preaching the Gospel]
Romans 10:18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “THEIR SOUND HAS GONE OUT TO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.”
So even though it had gone out to the world, Paul is still advocating that preaching still needed to be done and even Paul continued to preach, as well as others that can be documented throughout history, EVEN recent times.
By virtue of the fact that we have seen one of the greatest preaching of the Gospel to the world in this last century – this also shows the Gospel was to continue to be preached to the world.
The gospel was preached to ~300,000,000 people in the time of Christ without radio, TV or internet. Could it also be that in the times in between now and then that God has accomplished an effective preaching of the gospel to the world at large?
So does the fact that it has gone out to the world in the decades following the death of Christ or that it went out again to the world nearly 2000 years later or any other time in between preclude us from continuing to do it? NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Matthew 28:19 … make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 28:20 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.” Amen.
Go and make disciples! This is something we are to continue to do – it is a process as we see above and we saw in Romans 10:17.
Preaching the Gospel and the Word of God leads to hearing; hearing to believe or faith and baptism; and members then are to be taught. Without the preaching there can be no one to feed….
The Gospel is Still to be Preached
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness [evidence] to all the nations, and then the end will come.
This one of the main purposes of preaching the Gospel is to show the world beforehand Who God is and What is coming so that everyone will be without excuse when the all the Bible says is proven true.
This is the main reason that we CONTINUE to preach the Gospel today. It is commanded that we preach it until the return of Christ.
Some still say that Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) did finish the Work of God
By 1985 the true Gospel had gone out to some 200 countries, 8,000,000+ magazines per month, over 100 TV stations, and 20 million listeners on radio before that.
With all of this:
HWA did not Finish the Work of God
Some quote HWA to “prove” that preaching the Gospel is no longer necessary. Here is some of what they have to say:
Let me quote from the Worldwide News Friday March 6, 1981, quoting Mr. Armstrong.
And, Brethren, I have to say to you, “No one is going to succeed me.” I think that when God lets me die, the thing He has called me for will have been completed—preparing the way for the Second Coming of Christ, carrying the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to all the world for a witness unto all nations. There is no one in the Church that has the qualifications, the experience that could carry on the work that God has given me to do.
In addition, IF it is God’s will (and I put a big “IF it’s God’s will“), He could raise up a human being to preach the Gospel again to the world right before Christ returns. He could do it, but it’s obvious at this juncture, at this time, He has not chosen to do so.
Here is what another minister has said:
“Now because so many refuse to admit Mr. Herbert Armstrong [HWA] accomplished his commission,
It also means that we have proved and held fast to two very important facts:
(a) God called and trained Herbert W. Armstrong to take the good news of Christ’s coming kingdom to the world, and
(b) He did it! He finished it!”
This is presumptuous at best to speak for God, especially in light of all the scriptures that we have been citing and will continue to do. Quoting HWA is a two-edged sword. He is not infallible and what he said is not scriptural.
What HWA said right before his death
Let’s note what HWA said in his own writings just six days before he died:
“It may be that the Work that God has given me to do is complete, but not the Work of God’s Church, which will be faithfully doing God’s Work till Christ, the True Head of this Church, returns…Remember brethren, this is not the work of Herbert W. Armstrong…The greatest work lies ahead…Never before in the history of the Church has it been possible to reap so great a harvest. It has only been made possible through modern technology, beginning with the printing press, radio, television…Each of you must commit yourself to support God’s Work…God’s work must push ahead as never before. God is opening up new doors in television” (Last co-worker letter 1/10/86).
Not only did the Work not come to a halt but neither did the preaching of the Gospel.
It Does Not End Because a Man Dies
The Work of God does not end just because a man who has preached it mightily dies! Let’s notice someone else in a similar situation that did a work and died and yet it continued after him:
John 17:4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
If the death of Jesus Christ didn’t finish the work, how could the death of Herbert Armstrong finish the work?
At his death, Mr. Armstrong’s part in the continuum of God’s work being done on earth was complete. But the unabated preaching of the Gospel was extended by those still alive and continues to this very day. In fact, it will continue on until Christ returns:
How can the Work be done and the preaching of the Gospel no longer necessary? Consider this:
Billions Still Needed a Witnessing
HWA died in 1986 and now has been dead for 30 years (2016). Since then, approximately 3,000,000,000 people have been born! This means that of the nearly 100,000,000,000 people that have ever lived about 1 out of 30 have been born since 1986. And astoundingly 1 out 14 to have ever lived is alive at this very moment!
To put in perspective 3,000,000,000 was the population of the entire world in 1960.
It is not just a few that have slipped through the cracks, but billions that need to have the Gospel witnessed/evidenced to them BEFORE the end can come.
Notice the context:
Mark 13:8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.
Mark 13:9 “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them.
Mark 13:10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.
Mark 13:11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.
Mark 13:12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.
Mark 13:13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Mark 13:14 “So when you see the ‘ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Mark 13:15 Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house.
Mark 13:16 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
Mark 13:17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
Mark 13:18 And pray that your flight may not be in winter.
Mark 13:19 For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be.
The chronology of this indicates that the preaching will continue to go out to all nations up to the time of the two witnesses of Revelation 11
The Bible is succinct and to the point when it comes to this fact that the Gospel must go out to ALL nations and ALL peoples before He can return. He won’t return when nearly three billion have not been.
What Would be the Effects of Not Preaching the Gospel?
Those who have died since HWA and before the final two witnesses will not have heard it. What if Christ doesn’t come for another 100 years? If the Gospel was not being preached from the time of HWA’s death then there would be no one alive that had ever heard the Gospel being preached.
Perhaps even a better question is why does anyone in the church not want to share the Good News of what is to come? Why would a preacher not want to tell EVERYONE in the world about a better way of life? This is a matter of doing unto others as we would want done unto us! Do we not treasure the knowledge that we have concerning the Word of God? Why would we not want to continue to give that to the world?
In addition to this it does not make sense to stop preaching the Gospel at HWA’s death and then start again with the two witnesses. Why would God want a 30, 40 or more year gap in the preaching of the Gospel? It has constantly been preached since the first coming of Christ for almost 2,000 years and now God wants a large segment of mankind to not hear it and die without a witness? This does not make sense!
Why Some Still Say That We Cannot Preach the Gospel
Because We Do Not Have the Ability
It is being said that we are not our former organization (WCG) so therefore we cannot preach the Gospel. We are merely a shadow of what we once were and we can see that we should not be preaching the Gospel because no one is being called.
- It may be a matter of degrees. Maybe we are 1/10 (or less) of what we used to be, but this does not mean that we should not try to do what God has commanded. God can do a little with a lot if it is His will. It is highly presumptuous to say otherwise.
- Who are we to say whether God is calling anyone right now? That is borderline heretical if not in fact.
- We cannot confuse calling with witnessing. A calling may come from preaching the Gospel (John 6:44) but not necessarily.
- That being said, people have been and are still being called. Maybe not in the numbers or ways that it previously happened, but nonetheless it is still happening. Now the most important question is: Who do we not want to be called? Who is it that we are unwilling to try to witness the Gospel to? What would you say to God on judgment day if He asked you those questions?
Because We Do Not Have the Resources Like WCG
It was NOT this way in the beginning. For seven years it was just HWA and his wife. One of those that attends with us first attended in Pasadena, CA back in 1948 with 12-14 other people. The point is that after nearly 21 years, the church did not come close to resembling what it did during its heyday in the 1980’s.
The truth of the matter is that most people that made a stand and left and started all over again from the beginning with other organizations are considerable further down the road than WCG was at the same point.
Also, it would be wise to consider the extent to which the Gospel is going out to the world even at this time. HWA went out on radio and TV; today we have the internet which is even more ubiquitous. And when you combine the preaching of the hundreds of different Church of God organizations we may already be outreaching the WCG at its peak.
Faithful in little….
Even if what we are doing is a small work we are to be doing it to the best of our ability (Luke 19). To say, “I can’t do it because I am small,” is tantamount to a child saying they won’t do such and such because they can’t do it as well as an adult. There is a growth process that we must go through and one that we should not despise.
Because God allowed WCG to Be Torn Apart
There are many possible reasons for this. None though are an excuse for not preaching the Gospel:
It could have been to see who would remain faithful. Just because someone does not do what they are supposed to doesn’t mean we should not do what we are supposed to.
Moving Into a New Era
If this was a transition from Philadelphia to Laodicea then the questions remains whether you think that acting like a Laodicean is a good reason to not preach the Gospel. Of course that is rhetorical and any way there is still a remnant of Philadelphia that will remain until the return of Christ – what do you think we should be doing if we think of ourselves as Philadelphians?
Perhaps God let the organization fall apart for a good reason. At the time they were becoming heretical and going back to the old errors that they came out of that the word embraces. But is that a reason for us to not do what we should
In Deuteronomy 9:13-14 God told Moses that he could destroy all of the Israelites because of their stiff-necked ways. Does that then mean that His purpose, His plans and His promises would not be fulfilled – no, of course not. He was willing to start all over with one man.
God will not be thwarted by wayward man and we should continue on with our obligations
We Should Only be Preparing the Bride
To say now it is only time to prepare the bride is selfish and self-centered and a complete disregard for others.
Notice what one minister says in regard to preparing the bride, but also notice how he unwittingly puts the onus on himself to not neglect the preaching of the Gospel:
“Ephesians 4 verse 11, now Paul is bringing Christ into the picture. It says, “And He” referring to Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 4:11. … gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (KJV)
The first three of these were itinerant ministers (apostles, prophets and evangelists), who were preaching wherever they found an opportunity, while pastors and teachers were attached to some congregation or some location.
Let’s understand that. When the Gospel first started, they went out preaching (the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists), but they left behind those who were teachers and those who were pastors.
Now the fact is that today, some do not respect these job descriptions, but I would point out that Ephesians 4:11 said Christ gave them and so, if we try to diminish that, we try to diminish Christ’s commandment and we try to diminish God’s Word and we would do so to our own peril, if we did that. Remember Christ gave these job descriptions. “
He gave some to be apostles and evangelists and prophets (What is the purpose of these jobs): Preach the gospel…. The author then goes on and says, “Christ gave them,” do not diminish Christ’s commandment, and “we would do so to our own peril.” The minister was applying this to the role of teachers and pastors, but it also has to apply to those that preach the Gospel. He cannot have one without the other.
Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
The apostles, prophets, and evangelists were also part of the process – “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” (Ephesians 4:13 ). This has not happened yet.
Ephesians 4:17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,
Ephesians 4:18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;
The Ephesians had once been in the world but now, because of this process of going out to them with the Word of God and evangelizing them, they had now come out and were being taught among other things, not to go back to their old ways.
We are to be Found so Doing When He Returns
When Christ returns there will be no excuse that His message was not preached to them and they will be held accountable for it:
Matthew 24:46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.
This is how Christ begins to wrap up His prophecy in Matthew 24 and included in that is :14 where He says that the Gospel needs to be “preached in all the world.” This is part and parcel of what He expects of us to be “so doing.”
Christ also tells us in Luke 19, to ‘Do business till I come‘ (:13). Then after having received the kingdom (:15) He will judge us in how faithful we have been with our respective responsibilities. Then He will say either “Well done, good servant” (:17) or “you wicked servant” (:22).
What the master gave his servants was valuable and He expected that they were to DO something with what they had received UNTIL He returned the second time. They were not to sit back and do nothing. Over and over we read in the Bible that Christ expects action from His disciples especially when it comes to the commission of the church to feed the flock AND preach the Gospel.
And now finally, we are to be uncompromising in all aspects of the Work of God, INCLUDING PREACHING THE GOSPEL
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
We have a purpose that includes others – all men (1 Timothy 2:3-4)! The Gospel will continue to be preached until the very end. We are to be exceeding, excelling and increasing in the work of God until then.