What did the original Apostles say about going to heaven or hell? What did they say about the real purpose of life? Which weekly and annual days of worship did they observe? And did those days have a special meaning? What did they actually say about the "end of the world," Christ's Second Coming and what the true saints would be doing after Christ's return? What would our "reward" actually be?
I would like to share with all of our readers the ultimate "thrust"—the ultimate goal—of the religious teachings espoused in Tomorrow's World magazine. For we in this Work of Christ are definitely "different." How are we different? And why are we different?
Let me give you a little background, so that you can put things in perspective. I grew up in southwest Missouri, and for 19 years was a member of a very respectable "mainstream" church. My parents graduated from a college sponsored by this major church denomination. I was, for a year or two, president of my Sunday School class. I graduated from Joplin High School and was co-captain of the track team and the star mile runner for three consecutive years. I lettered in football, and was a two-time Golden Gloves boxing champion. I joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and became a first lieutenant in the Corps. Later, I attended Joplin Junior College, and was elected President of the Junior College Luncheon Club—an organization devoted to discussing civic affairs and world events.
I was definitely a "regular" guy—part of "mainstream America."
Early in high school, however, one of my best friends was killed in a wrestling match. We had lived across the alley from each other as young boys, and had spent hundreds of hours wrestling together, rolling around in the Bermuda grass like two little bear cubs. When I heard that Jimmy had had his neck broken in a "wrestling exhibition" up in Pittsburgh, Kansas, I was devastated.
Why did God let Jimmy die? Where was he now, really? In heaven or hell—or what?
This tragedy propelled me to look into the reality of God, and to search for genuine answers. I began attending various churches and "revival" meetings. I read many different books and commentaries on religion, and began to listen to a number of preachers on the radio (there was no television back then). I took a philosophy course during my first year of college, and concluded not only that most philosophers were contradicting one another, but that their ideas were indeed empty, impractical and based on nothing but human imagination.
Finally, I was able to prove to my personal satisfaction that a man named Herbert W. Armstrong was the only one who was preaching what the Bible actually said. Mr. Armstrong consistently referred his listeners to the Bible, and read his scriptural references right out of the Bible. Rather than constantly saying "The Bible says!" with no proof (as certain leading ministers were doing), Mr. Armstrong encouraged his listeners to look up the scriptures and prove what he was saying—right out of their own Bibles!
Still later, after attending Ambassador College in Pasadena, California, I began to see that the genuine "key" to true Christianity was whether or not we would actually believe and practice what Jesus Christ and the original Apostles believed and practiced. What did they say about going to heaven or hell? What did they say about the real purpose of life? Which weekly and annual days of worship did they observe? And did those days have a special meaning? What did they actually say about the "end of the world," Christ's Second Coming and what the true saints would be doing after Christ's return? What would our "reward" actually be?
All this I began to mentally lump under the heading: "Apostolic Christianity."
And that very Apostolic Christianity, dear reader, is the ultimate thrust of this Work, as far as its religious goal is concerned. Of course, we want to inform our readers of the end-time prophetic events and the real meaning behind today's news. We hope that all of you will act on this precious knowledge, so that you and your loved ones may be spared from the Great Tribulation—an absolute holocaust that will strike not only the Jewish people, but also the American and British-descended peoples with special ferocity!
But, most of all, we hope and pray that God will open your mind to understand the transcendent purpose that God is working out here on earth, and that you will come to understand the true Christian faith and "way of life" that will help you fulfill God's great purpose for human life. For that genuine Christian faith and way of life have been scuttled by mainstream "Christianity." Highly respected Christian author Jesse Lyman Hurlbut freely acknowledges the "very different" Christianity of Jesus and the Apostles when compared with mainstream "churchianity" today:
"We name the last generation of the first century, from 68 to 100 A.D., 'The Age of Shadows,' partly because the gloom of persecution was over the church; but more especially because of all periods in the history, it is the one about which we know the least. We have no longer the clear light of the Book of Acts to guide us; and no author of that age has filled the blank in the history. We would like to read the later work by such helpers of St. Paul as Timothy, Apollos and Titus, but all these and St. Paul's other friends drop out of the record at his death. For fifty years after St. Paul's life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120 A.D. with the writings of the earliest church fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul." (The Story of the Christian Church, p. 41).
A vital step for understanding the puzzle of this modern "Christianity," which directly contradicts the teachings and practices of Christ and the original Apostles, is to study the way of life of the original and true Mother Church—the Church of God at Jerusalem.
Paul wrote to the mainly Gentile believers at Thessalonica, saying: "For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 2:14). Nearly all historians recognize that the earliest Headquarters Church was at Jerusalem—and that it set the pattern for the teaching and way of life practiced in Apostolic Christianity.
A respected and thoroughly researched secular history of this period is Edward Gibbon's monumental work, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Writing of the Apostolic and post-Apostolic Eras, Gibbon states: "The first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were all circumcised Jews; and the congregation over which they presided united the Law of Moses with the doctrine of Christ. It was natural that the primitive tradition of a church which was founded only forty days after the death of Christ, and was governed almost as many years under the immediate inspection of his apostle, should be received as the standard of orthodoxy. The distant churches very frequently appealed to the authority of their venerable Parent" (chap. 15, sec. 1).
I should point out here that "the law" the early Christians observed was not the complete Law of Moses. That is a mistaken idea foisted on church historians by misguided medieval theologians. What the true Christians did observe were the Ten Commandments, along with God's statutes—all now magnified even more so in the spirit than they had been in the Old Testament. Christians did not believe that they were required to persist in the ceremonial aspects of the Law of Moses, nor in the physical administration of civil law that God gave Israel. But because these early Christians still observed the biblical Sabbath, God's annual Festivals, tithing and certain dietary restrictions (cf. Leviticus 11), many historians wrongly persist in saying that they followed the "Law of Moses"—trying to lump God's commandments and statutes in with animal sacrifices and ritualistic washings. This is absolutely wrong, and it is deceptive!
The truth is that there has always been a "little flock" (Luke 12:32) of believers, who followed the teachings and practices of Christ and the Apostles. However, since Apostolic times, they have been hounded and persecuted, and little noticed by the world at large. As the early apostates took over the existing church structures and the name "Christian," the last remaining original Apostle was inspired to write about one of those apostate leaders: "I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church" (3 John 9–10).
So the true worshipers were "cast out" of the local congregations, and even John, Jesus' beloved friend among the Apostles, was not certain whether he would be able to come and rectify the situation!
As Jesus prophesied (Matthew 24:5), many false teachers have come using His name. They talk about "love." But they set forth a false Christ and a false message about His person—rather than faithfully preaching the message of the coming Kingdom of God that the Father had sent by Him. What has been the result?
People today are confused about the true religion of Jesus Christ. Those who profess Christianity are divided into hundreds of competing sects and denominations. But very few understand the original form of Christianity that Christ and His Apostles taught and lived! The "Christian" world has been built on shifting sand. Its moral system is impotent without the sure foundation of God's law. Secular forces are increasingly dictating its standards of conduct, which used to be the prerogative of religious leaders.
We behold the spectacle of sexual perverts taking over more and more key posts in government, in education and even in some of the mainline churches! We behold the horrifying statistics of millions of unborn babies having their skulls crushed and being vacuumed out of their mothers' wombs! We behold a civilization that is truly coming apart at the seams. We are a society that will soon be directly punished by the Great God who gives life and breath to all.
Why? In no small measure because our peoples have been deceived into believing in "another Jesus"—because our peoples have truly lost contact with the true God and His revealed way of life.
Jesus said: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21–23).
Yes! The religion that assumed the name of Christianity adopted the pagan concepts and practices of the Babylonian Mystery Religion in direct violation of the law of God! In 2 Thessalonians 2:7, the Apostle Paul referred to this as the "mystery of lawlessness" (To learn more about this "mystery of lawlessness," please write for our free booklet, Who or What is the Antichrist?). This false worship system was instituted in place of the simple way of life that Jesus and the Apostles had taught. That way of life was based on obedience to the Ten Commandments. Yet it was all but stamped out in favor of rituals, ceremonies and an empty faith in a false person of Christ, while at the same time rejecting His inspired message from God!
We in this Work of the living God teach and practice—to the best of our ability and with God's help—the same basic "way of life" taught by Christ and His Apostles. One of our basic mottos is: "Restore Apostolic Christianity!"
If you would like to learn more about this return to the "original" Christianity and all that it involves, be sure to write us or call us at the regional office nearest you, as listed on page 2 of this magazine. Request your free copy of our remarkable, fully documented booklet, Restoring Apostolic Christianity. If you will not just read, but study, this eye-opening booklet with an open mind and open heart, then you will really understand.