In this post, there is neither room for nor time for me to record all that God has shown and taught me concerning the role of the ministry and lessons we can learn. This series of posts will be geared to addressing some of these lessons we are to learn from the “uniqueness” of the ordinations that have occurred in God’s Church since the time that God’s final witness began in 2008.
In early 2007, due to the size of God’s church, the existing organizational structure could handle the needs of the Church and the “work” God had placed before us to do. However, as that year drew on, the “work” before us began to grow at a very fast pace. This in turn led us to begin making changes in the way we were structured. At that time, we really had no idea of all that God had in store for us concerning this “greater structure” and the important powerful role it was to play in the transforming (creating, molding, and fashioning) of His Church.
As we address some of this structuring process as it progressed, lessons and truth to be learned concerning ordinations will also be covered along the way. Of all the things that will be covered in this series of posts, one of the most important lessons and truths about ordinations that you should hold fast is that ordinations “try and test” God’s Church. As we now understand as it has been covered in several posts, God’s Church has gone through a most unique period of trying, testing, refining, and strengthening. The role of ordinations in the Church has played a very large part in all this.
It Is God’s Church
The reality is that ordinations can bring out some of the best in people (in those who yield more fully to God’s spirit being “in” and “leading” them), and ordinations can bring out some of the worst in people (in those who do not yield to God’s spirit, but to their own selfish carnal spirit).
Those who yield to God’s spirit will react to an ordination in a spiritual way – after a godly manner. This can include both the one being ordained and those who respond to (observe, witness) it. This can and does try and test people as to their true spiritual development.
A true spiritual response from one being ordained will first be an attitude of humility and soberness of mind. One will recognize that an ordination can be dangerous, as it can feed pride and self-importance, since that is the natural human response to such an occasion. Not only will one be sobered to the dangers of normal human nature, but also one will be sobered to a realization of greater responsibility and expectation before God. The soberness and care that is taken to heart concerning one’s own example and speech (words that come out of the mouth) will grow in importance, practice, and guardedness. Within the midst of this soberness is also a “joy” due to understanding the greater opportunity for growth and service to God and His people.
A true spiritual response from those who witness the ordination of another will also be one of humility, as one recognizes this is from God and then desires to support, help, and rejoice in the ordination. A spiritual response will be to combat and guard against any carnal response that “will” emerge. A right response and decision (choice made) will also be the complete willingness to “come under” any form of government structure that may now involve that person’s life in relationship to the one ordained.
For such individuals who have or seek to have a right spiritual response to an ordination, there is the conviction at the forefront of it all that “this is God’s Church.” God will be seen (understood) as fully being over His government in His Church. Every member of the Body of Christ who is affected by an ordination in God’s Church is alwaystried and tested when such occurs.
Then there are those not yielding to God’s spirit who react to an ordination in a completely carnal manner. For the one being ordained, the response can be one of “expectation,” as though they deserve this, are finally recognized, or have earned it. The response is one of pride and eagerness to be “lifted up” above others – to be “over” others and to be “seen” as having authority. Such a spirit is often one that rejoices more in “being served” rather than in serving others, even if by examples sake alone (which has great value to God’s people when lived well). It also needs to be understood that a person can begin with a humble and true spiritual response to their own ordination, but “can change” in time by not yielding to God’s spirit as they let down spiritually (through sin and/or becoming lukewarm in spirit) and begin turning to selfishness and pride. The example of Saul, Israel’s first king, reflects this kind of change. All such people seek the recognition and esteem of others.
Those who witness (observe and/or are directly affected by) an ordination and respond carnally can display a number of different responses. It can be one of jealousy and envy in which case the individual can believe a mistake has been made (that God is not in the picture) and/or that they should have been ordained instead. Often such carnal responses include personal “judgment” toward the ordained individual. They themselves have determined that the qualifications of the one ordained are lacking. This kind of judgment can view things about a person’s past though eyes that are unforgiving and blind to one’s true spiritual growth.
Other carnal responses can also produce things like bitterness, anger, resentment, depression, escalating harsh judgment, unfaithfulness, presumptuousness, and other spiritually debilitating attitudes. These attitudes are not just confined toward the one who is ordained, but are often turned toward (against) those in the government of the Church. In reality, that kind of wrong response is actually a spiritual one that is against God because the individual does not “see” God as being in full control of His Church for whatever His purpose might be.
To better understand God’s purpose in ordinations, it is important to know some of the history of God’s Church, along with the lessons and teaching that can be gleaned along the way.
Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, recorded that there was a structure in the Church in which God leads, teaches, guides, and fashions His people. That which he recorded reveals the basic structure whereby God “gave some apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11). Over the past few decades, the positions of responsibility within the ministry have carried varying descriptions, while others have remained the same. There have been positions within this structure known as elders, local elders, preaching elders, and in recent time, associate elders and senior elders. The function of apostle, prophet, and evangelist has remained more consistent throughout the centuries. The function of an apostle has always carried the understanding of those directly under Jesus Christ who serve to carry the primary leadership of the Church on this earth.
In the beginning, when the Church first began in 31 A.D., God gave 12 apostles to serve and establish His Church. These apostles were sent primarily to Judah, but also to a far lesser degree, to some of the scattered tribes of Israel (James 1:1). Of these 12 apostles, Peter was the head or “chief apostle” to Judah. John is recognized as the last of those early apostles, whom God also gave to be a prophet to His Church. From the beginning of the Church, there have only been two who have been know as both an apostle and a prophet.
When God raised up the era of Philadelphia, which was the era that would lead the Church into the final end-time, God raised up Herbert W. Armstrong to be the only apostle who would lead His Church through that entire period. When Herbert W. Armstrong died in January of 1986, the era of Philadelphia ended and the era of Laodicea began. At that time, Joseph Tkach, Sr. was recognized as the one who was placed in position (to “sit” in authority in the temple of God – 2 Thes. 2:4) to carry on with the leadership of the Worldwide Church of God. Although he was not recognized as an apostle, he was an ordained minister in God’s Church.
There is much to be learned from this account of the transition in God’s acting government from the leadership of Herbert W. Armstrong to that of Joseph Tkach, Sr., who eventually fulfilled the prophetic role of the “man of sin” and “son of perdition” for the end-time. Remember, this is God’s Church that is being addressed here. God had the power to prevent Joseph Tkach, Sr. from entering that position of leadership, but it was God Almighty, in His power, who placed him there as part of “His purpose” to be fulfilled in “His Church” during Laodicea.
All ordinations into God’s Church are under God’s control and purpose. Some are to honor and some are to dishonor, but God is over “His” Church. Only God can manifest, in His time, what His purpose is. No one can presume to judge God and His purpose that He works out in His Church.
It also needs to be noted here that many in God’s Church were “tried and tested” from the moment Joseph Tkach, Sr. was placed in his position at the beginning of the era of Laodicea. This transition itself manifested the truth concerning some who had either never truly been under (never submitted in spirit to) God’s government or who came to believe “their way” was better. In the beginning of Laodicea, when Joseph Tkach, Sr. began leading the Church under Christ, all in God’s Church were to support and be loyal to that change in new leadership. It was God’s Church, and it was a matter of being in subjection to God’s government.
God worked through Joseph Tkach, Sr. to begin giving some much needed balance and understanding to His Church in some very basic areas of life. For those who yielded to this process and “learned” what God was giving, it opened the way for God to give more upon which one could build and grow spiritually. However, the rejection of these corrections and changes caused stagnation and squelched the growth of many. Many started to become “stuck in time” and to serve God from a “physical” plane rather than a growing spiritual one. Even then, strong growth did not follow, as this period was also coupled with a rapidly growing spirit of lethargy and a lukewarm spirit that was filled with pride.
One such example of change that reveals a high level of “physical” application rather than a “spiritual” one concerned the observance of birthdays. During Philadelphia, the observance of birthdays was basically forbidden as it was understood to be evil and sin to participate in such actions. Mothers and fathers were unbalanced in this as they did not “make special note” (acknowledge or communicate) the anniversary of the birth of their own children. Yet it is healthy for children to see that their addition to a family carries great joy, meaning, and thankfulness. Certainly, there is balance in such recognition where someone in God’s Church would not engage in large parties, expectation of numerous gifts, and drunken celebration that is often practiced in the world. On the other hand, the verbal or written acknowledgement of parents, perhaps a special meal, a toast, a decorated cake, or even the giving of a gift is not wrong in any manner. But during Philadelphia, the Church did not have this balance.
As a result of the era of Philadelphia recognizing Christ’s birth was nowhere around December, that its observance was of pagan origin, and that God never gave command that His Son’s birth was to be celebrated, all birthday observance was subsequently determined to be wrong. Due to the Church’s zeal to obey God (which begins first on a more physical plane) when it came out of Sardis and was having truth revealed to it, spiritual balance took time to develop. By the end of Philadelphia, there were several areas where a matter of balance had not yet been addressed wherein people could grow in true spiritual understanding of such matters.
Many who are still scattered into various organizations and even a few who have become part of the remnant still battle with the balance in the observance of birthdays and/or still consider it wrong. All these people unwittingly fail to recognize that they partially observe and even celebrate the real birth of Christ. Certainly, this has nothing to do with the false observance of Christmas. It does have everything to do with the birth of Christ into Elohim, which is the day of the wave-sheaf offering. This anniversary occurs during the “Feast” of Unleavened Bread and is also magnified by the beginning of the count to Pentecost, which pictures the establishment of the Kingdom of God to govern the earth upon Christ’s coming as King of kings.
Some of the early changes that God inspired to occur in the first couple of years of Joseph Tkach, Sr. leading the Worldwide Church of God were not received by some, as they were “tried” in their faithfulness to God’s government. True attitudes of disloyalty, presumptuousness, harsh (hardened) judgment, self-righteousness, and pride began to be made manifest within the Church. Some who tended to be more to the “right” and ultra-conservative in nature (not spiritual) in dealing with God’s truth on a “physical level” determined that Joseph Tkach, Sr. was not qualified to lead God’s Church, and they left to form their own organization. This organization saw itself as one that would uphold a physical concept of being faithful to Philadelphia rather than becoming Laodicean, as they saw all others. They could not “see” that by presuming to be faithful to an era of God’s Church that they actually became unfaithful to God.
This large group became the second group to separate itself from the Worldwide Church of God by taking with it a few thousand people. The first group was the International Church of God that formed under the leadership of Garner Ted Armstrong while Herbert W. Armstrong was still alive. In both cases, these people separated themselves from God’s true Church by becoming presumptuous that they could “start” or take with them God’s Church.
No one in the last era of Laodicea had the choice to separate themselves from the organization in where God had placed His leadership until He manifested that He no longer worked in it. God made this manifest at the time of the Apostasy when the First Seal of Revelation was opened by Christ.
This history of how God has worked in His Church over the past two eras of the Church becomes important to understanding more about how He has worked in the remnant of His Church through the ordinations that began to multiply rapidly after the time that His final witness began in 2008.
(Part 2 of this series will be posted next week.)