In the February 1972 issue of the magazine, Tomorrow’s World, in a “Personal” of Herbert W. Armstrong, he addressed the matter of correcting error in God’s Church. It would be good to quote a portion of what he said:
“We (the Church) have not had to correct error many times. But each time we have corrected error, we have had one fewer error left. If we knew of any error still remaining, now, we would change it! If and when we find one in the future, we shall correct it! The one who follows that principle is the most free from error!”
“So, confessing such an error is one of the surest proofs to identify the people through whom the living Christ is working – and whom he is using!”
This was stated well and it is so very true concerning the importance of changing when confronted with error. Since the time that the remnant of God’s Church became fully established on Pentecost of 1998, there have been 36 new truths added to the Church. Each time a new truth has been established, some error has been exposed (revealed) and the Church has changed according to the “present truth” God has given it.
When God gives truth to His Church, it isn’t simply a matter of Him revealing everything there is to know about a specific subject. Being given knowledge is indeed a means for learning, but so often, God gives us more than just knowledge. By the way (means and process) He progressively reveals truth to us, we are able to grow in deeper “understanding” of His purpose and will of the “present truth” that He gives to us.
Instead of just being given simple “knowledge,” it is far more valuable to receive “understanding” so that conviction and agreement can become established more quickly and more deeply. This is the case concerning some of those things God has been revealing throughout this series.
Correction and Refinement
There is need, at this stage in what God is revealing, to correct a portion of “present knowledge” pertaining to how God will deal with those who have committed the unpardonable sin. It needs to be stated again that when speaking of the unpardonable sin that it is about sin from which a person will not repent, and because a person will not repent of sin, the sin cannot be forgiven – it is “unpardonable.”
The reality is that God knows when such a person will no longer or never repent because the “spirit in man” has become “set against” Him. God knows such “spirit essence” in the mind of such people. No human has such ability.
We have already addressed, refined, and corrected some knowledge from our past in this series. It has been made clear that Satan will not be released from his imprisonment that occurs at Christ’s coming until after the Millennium. Although this correction is not one of great magnitude at this immediate time, since it is so far into the future, it does lead us to now have a deeper grasp of how and why certain events will occur after the Millennium as they will.
It would be good to once again address some of this previous belief as we “then” understood it in the Worldwide Church of God. It was the long held belief that Satan and the demons would be released from their confinement toward the end of the Millennium before it was completed. It was further taken that Satan would then gather together an incredible vast army, from among mankind, in an effort to go up to destroy God’s holy city. However, it has already been addressed that this event of Satan’s release is not until after the Millennium is over.
It would be valuable to delve a little more deeply into what is actually stated in the Book of Revelation, within the context of Christ’s coming and the Millennium that will follow, concerning what happens to Satan throughout this period, including the time that follows it.
“I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, who is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be fulfilled. After that he must be loosened (released) for a little season” (Rev. 20:1-3).
As we review these verses, there are distinct events that need to be pointed out and commented upon, as these have much to do with some correction of previously held beliefs and a clearer refinement God is revealing to us. It would also be good to point out at this juncture that we are currently focusing upon verses that have been recorded now for the past 1,900 years, and during this period of time God’s Church has only been given this small amount of information about these events. It needs to be understood that once we cover more of what God is currently revealing to us, this may well be all that is given to the Church and there may not be more throughout the entirety of the Millennium. There are prophetic events that apply to Satan in the future which God will not fully reveal the meaning and purpose of until these events actually come to their time for fulfillment.
In these verses just quoted, it should jump out to you that Satan is not released during any period of the Millennium, and that clearly includes the end of that period of time as well. It states that Satan cannot be released until the thousand years are “fulfilled,” but that it will be “after” the Millennium is complete. It is important not to “read into” what these verses state, but to instead rely upon God to reveal the meaning to His Church in the same way He always has – through His apostles and prophets.
These verses do not say that the releasing of Satan will follow “immediately” after the Millennium is over or whether it will be a hundred years later, but that it is simply “after” that period of time (the Millennium) is fulfilled. However, God is now clearly revealing not only that Satan cannot be present with mankind during the Millennium, but that he cannot be present during the 100 years of judgment and salvation that is offered to the vast majority of mankind when they are given a second physical life. Satan cannot deceive nor perversely influence mankind during these specific periods of time. These verses do state that when Satan is released it will be for a limited period of time – “a little season.”
This “little season” is important in that God has inspired it to be written in this specific manner so that it is not only unspecified by Him when it is to occur, but it is also not specific in how long it will last. It could be a few months or a few years, but God is not going to reveal it until it is His time to do so, which could easily mean it may not be revealed until after it has actually taken place. This would be akin to God’s warning to His Church of an “Apostasy” that would take place before Christ’s coming which would serve as a final sign of that coming. Yet all the timing about when it would occur was not given until after it had actually happened. Then God revealed what He had prophesied about it. The Church knew it was coming at the end-time and yet it came when no one was looking for it to be fulfilled. It caught the Church totally off guard! Although God has given the knowledge about many events that would come to pass, there are those events that have not been given to us to be fully “known” until after God revealed their actual manifestation – the actual fulfillment.
Within this previously held belief that began in Worldwide, that Satan would be released toward the end of the Millennium, it was always difficult to grasp how Satan could amass such a large army from Gog and Magog. By this time, the manifested glory and beauty of God’s work would have been largely accomplished and seen (experienced) on earth over the previous nearly 1,000 years. It did not make complete sense that Satan could gather so many from that period of time who would so readily turn against God in order to bring about such destruction.
Now God is giving us to understand that this gathering of Satan from Gog and Magog does not happen until a specific period after the Millennium is over. But the question remains: “Where does this large army come from?” As we continue on with what God is revealing to us, this will become much clearer. However, another matter must first be addressed that leads to deeper understanding of God’s will, purpose, and righteous judgment involving those who have committed the unpardonable sin – whose spirit has become “set against” God.
A few years ago, God led His Church to see another error in belief from our past that carried throughout the eras in both Philadelphia and Laodicea. This concerned aspects of “God’s judgment” that would come upon all who have lived and died who have not chosen God’s way of life, but have committed the unpardonable sin. It was believed that all who had committed such sin would be resurrected back to a second physical life at the end of the hundred years that follows the Millennium. The purpose for this resurrection was believed to be for the sole purpose of passing a final judgment of eternal death upon all such people and that they summarily would then be cast into a lake of fire to be consumed. It was believed that in such a resurrection these people would be quickly judged, and this would be followed directly after that by the execution of this judgment, as they were put right back to death for a second and final time – never to be resurrected again.
God clearly revealed that there was not going to be a resurrection to judgment of all who committed the unpardonable sin at the end of the 100 years for the “sole purpose” of quickly casting them into a lake of fire to receive a second and final death. However, at the time God revealed this, He did not reveal the rest of the truth or the “complete truth” of the matter. So, as God’s apostle, I incorrectly saw this to mean that since “all” such individuals were not to be resurrected for that sole purpose of simply being put right back to death, thus ending their life forever (an eternal punishment), that “all” such people would simply never be resurrected again to physical life. It was incorrectly taken that “all” such individuals would simply die during the time period in which they had committed their unpardonable sin and never be resurrected to physical life again, thus, at that time receiving their final judgment of “eternal punishment.”
In the context of this series on True Fellowship, God is clarifying much of the process and outcome of those who become “set in agreement” and those who become “set against” Him. The understanding of this outcome involves God’s means or process in how He administers His righteous judgment.
God is leading His people to judge matters of “fellowship” with deeper understanding and clearer separation of how specific categories of individuals are to be dealt with according to their specific uniqueness. Not all disfellowshipped individuals fall into the same categories of how they are to be addressed and seen. God knows the mind of all people, just as He knows the spirit in us. However, as physical human beings, we do not know the spirit of the mind within a person. We do not have absolute knowledge of the heart – the true spirit of a person. Instead, we are to learn how to judge in a righteous manner by true testimony – by the true witness of things that are manifest before us. Human nature tends to judge by prejudice, personal opinion, and pride. But in God’s Church we are to learn righteous judgment as God teaches us how to do so.
Learning that there are different categories of people who commit the unpardonable sin (meaning their spirit is set against God) and how such matters are judged will help us better judge the differing matters associated with disfellowshipment and/or with those who have not been in our fellowship but are motivated to attack God’s Church through slander, evil speaking, finding “fault” (by their own distorted interpretation), and twisted accusation and judgment.
Judgment Verses Sentiment
Within “traditional Christianity,” there is a lot of sentiment and wishful thinking regarding judgment and whether people will be going to heaven or to a hell fire after death. Although it is highly regarded that extremely “bad” or evil people will go to hell, the sentiment is that most will be able to receive some form of “absolution,” or be set free from guilt, sin, or penalty, so that most can still end up in heaven. Of course this thinking then lends itself to minimizing consideration or concern for personal accountability for how one chooses to live life. So people then tend to live and do whatever they please.
This same kind of thinking has also led to a broader distortion of actual personal accountability by changing grace into a means for excusing selfish living and sin. The idea is, since God knows our weak nature, He then only requires that we simply come before Him or worship Him “just as we are” (without change).
However, within the Church, we know that there is judgment involved concerning “how” we choose to live our lives, as to whether we are in unity with God or not. Nevertheless, often times this aspect of traditional Christianity’s emotional response toward judgment can also be carried over and falsely blended-in (mixed) with truth. This then obviously makes what was true, now untrue, just sentiment and wishful thinking.
In the late 1970’s, after being in the Church for about 10 years, I was first struck by the manifestation of such false sentiments in regards to a young man who had just been baptized. He was well known and well liked within a congregation of over 500 people in one of the Houston, Texas, churches. One night, this young man, 19 years of age, was killed in a car wreck. Only two weeks earlier he had been baptized. The “sentiment” of the vast majority of people at that time was that they would see him next in the Kingdom of God – in Elohim. That was only sentiment and not sound or true judgment.
One cannot be impregnated with the begettal of God’s holy spirit and two weeks later be able to be born into Elohim when the first resurrection occurs. Transformation, trying with testing, and spiritual growth with maturity cannot produce a “creation” into Elohim in such a fast manner. It takes years! Sentiment has no place in judgment! This of course is using the definition of sentiment being, “judgment permeated or prompted by feeling.”
God’s Calling With Accountability
As we continue into this series, there is another type of sentiment that exists which needs to be addressed here. It is the judgmental feeling that most people from among mankind will eventually be saved and born into God’s family – Elohim. That would certainly be a wonderful thing if all were to choose God’s way, but that is not reality. This false sentiment also tends to foster the notion that during the Millennium, and especially during the final 100 years, that most people will be saved during these specific periods of time. The Millennium, and especially the final 100 years, can almost be seen as a type of utopia, and many have had that exact concept.
Certainly, the world under God’s righteous rule and government during the Millennium and Great White Throne compared to the first 6,000 years of “Babel” under Satan’s reign, will be like the difference between night and day. Although God will be offering mankind the ability to see an awesome contrast for life between His world and the one of the past 6,000 years, that does not mean that most of mankind will embrace or choose what God offers by His way of life. The reality is that there are people who choose to embrace the night.
Although mankind has the ability to embrace “good and evil,” the truth is that both are embraced from a motivation of selfishness. “Good” is not embraced because of agreement with what God has established and revealed as right or wrong, true or false, good or bad, but because of one’s own selfish interests. Man’s interests (ways) are not God’s interests (ways).
The choice between these two ways (God’s or man’s) comes head-to-head when one is given the time for their “calling” (Gk. – invitation) – when given the ability to “see” the truth. This has not only been true for people when they have been called in this present age of the first 6,000 years, but it will be true for all who live in the Millennium and final 100 years, as all will have the opportunity for a calling (invitation into God’s Kingdom) at that time.
However, just because a person is “called by God” and has the ability to see God’s ways does not mean they will choose it. The simple truth is there will be vast numbers of people from throughout the Millennium and Great White Throne who will not choose God’s interests and His ways, but will choose their own! Personal accountability for one’s own choices are real and need to be clearly seen as such.
Three Groups Set Against God
Of all those whose minds become “set against God,” there are three very separate and specific groups whose judgment is set. God has judged that all who become set against Him will receive a final execution of judgment of eternal death – a punishment wherein they will never be resurrected to life again. However, before that judgment can be “executed” (carried out, finalized), there is an additional phase of God’s righteous judgment that must be established first.
God has predetermined (purposed, chosen, willed) that such judgment cannot be “executed” until the true spirit of all such people set against Him is manifested for others to clearly see. As a magnification of His righteous judgment, God has established that there must be a clear manifestation of the outward actions of those people who choose to live against Him and His true ways. Their true spirit is to be clearly exposed – seen and witnessed by others that they are indeed against God.
There are three very distinct groups who become set against God, whose outward actions will give clear evidence (witness, testimony) of their true inner spirit, which must be exposed. In order to clearly establish and keep separate who these groups are, they will first be listed in the order that they will be explained.
1) Those never begotten of God, whose actions “against God” have not yet been manifested (exposed).
2) Those begotten of God, whose actions against God have not been “clearly” manifested (exposed).
3) Those begotten of God, whose actions against God have been manifested.
Resurrection To A “Little Season”
As it has already been mentioned, there is a group that has become “set against” God who have “never been begotten.” There are those over the millennia who have lived such evil that they have fully corrupted the mind (the spirit in man) that God gave to them. Their mind became set against anything that was truly good, although the vast majority of these people have never known any truth about God. Their minds are so corrupted and perverted toward life that they will not accept truth from God when they are shown it.
This group constitutes vast numbers of mankind throughout the millennia. The witness from clearly defined, outward evidence has not yet been established for these people, as they have not yet outwardly rejected God’s true way of life since they have never been shown it. All of these will be resurrected to a second physical life, but not during the final 100-year resurrection. Instead, these will be resurrected in order to manifest a clear witness that they reject God even after they are shown God’s great work and His ways.
This resurrection is not a resurrection to “save the spirit in the day of the Lord Jesus,” as their mind (the spirit essence in them) has already been fully corrupted through their evil choices in life. This resurrection is to establish a true witness of their own evil choice for how they want to live life. This resurrection is to establish a true witness of their choice in rejecting God, although they have already done so in the spirit in their mind, since they have already chosen “evil.” When they are resurrected, they will see what God established with mankind and the awesome changes He has brought upon the earth over the previous 1,100 years. At this time, they will also see the vastness of those born into Elohim.
God knows the spirit of this vast army of people which is fully “set against” Him and that they will never repent no matter what awesome glory of His that they see. All this will work to manifest their true spirit once Satan has been released and has influence “with them” one last time. When all is said and done, because of their “set mind,” they will choose the influence and ways of Satan over the righteous and merciful influence of God’s grace that has always been before all mankind (by His very creation and His giving of life itself).
A great clarification of truth that God is now revealing is that the period of time for this resurrection to physical life once again and of their own witness of God’s great work and true ways of life, will coincide with Satan’s final actions of gathering together Gog and Magog in an effort to destroy God’s “holy city” – Jerusalem. The length of time for this final witness, judgment, and manifestation of their true spirit is unspecified as God states that Satan is released for “a little season.”
This resurrection is not one that can occur during the Millennium, as we have already addressed this. It cannot be before or during the great resurrection of the final 100 years for salvation, as there will still be those during that time who will not choose God’s way, even after being given a “second life” to live. Those who become fully “set against” God during the final 100 years for salvation will live on into this very last time (this “little season”) in order to more fully manifest their true spirit and receive the execution of their judgment to eternal death.
Let’s look at what is written about this that will occur during this “little season.”
“When the thousand years are expired (it is not immediate, as this strictly makes it clear that it is for a time after the Millennium), Satan shall be released out of his prison. He shall go out to deceive the nations (to deceive them to engage in his final act), which are in Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth (worldwide) and encompassed about the camp of the saints, and the beloved city (the resurrected saints and the beloved city are one in the same), and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them” (Rev. 20:7-9).
This “little season” is the time of Satan’s and the demons’ release from their imprisonment over the previous 1,100 years. Directly after the final 100 years of salvation that is offered to mankind, those whose “spirit in man” is set against God but has not yet been made fully manifest (seen, witnessed, exposed) that they are actually against God, will be resurrected at this same time. These will comprise the great army that Satan gathers together to fight against God’s purpose one last time. Their choice manifests their true spirit that they will not repent and that they do not want God’s ways.
Begotten of God
Within the division of the three separate groups whose minds are set against God, the last two consist of those who have been begotten of God’s spirit, but at some point choose to turn against Him and His ways. They will never repent of their pride or of their choices.
The difference between these two groups that were begotten of God’s spirit is that one has clearly manifested that they are against God and His ways, which clearly reveals they are against God because of their outward display against His Church and His truth. The other group has not made such a “clear” display of their true spirit that is set against God.
Those who have become spiritually weak and have fallen asleep are not included with these two groups who have been begotten and then later turn against God, becoming set against God. It has already been covered how such people who are not yet “set in spirit” and then die in that state, will be resurrected again to a second physical life in the final 100 years in order to be brought to repentance and potential salvation, and at that time to “save the spirit in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Group #2 that was listed earlier consists of those who become begotten and then later turn against God’s true way of life and whose minds become set against Him, but their outward actions do not adequately establish (manifest) a “clear witness” against them that they have made such a choice. Some of these are those who strive to hide their sins and do not repent, although they may even say that they have repented, then in time they become set against God because of their refusal to repent and fight against their human nature. Others simply leave relatively quiet from the fellowship of the Church to live as they choose, never to be heard from again. Yet others are those who conform to an outward appearance of being of the same mind, and may continue due to family (or other personal selfish reasons), but inside they have fully rejected God and have become set against Him. Still there are others who make up this group, who do not manifest their true spirit outwardly in order for clear judgment to be made that they are against God.
God knows the mind of all such people who are “set against” Him and who will not repent, but for His full righteous judgment to become established, these will all have to be resurrected to a second physical life in order for their true spirit to be exposed (made manifest) that they are indeed against God. They will be resurrected during the “little season” that follows the final 100 years for salvation.
It needs to be made clear that there will be those who fit into this category who will live on into the Millennium, and also those who will be born into it (making the same choices not to repent), who will be resurrected to a second physical life during this “little season.” The purpose will be the same – to establish a clear and true witness of their true spirit – one that became “set against” God. Even during such an awesome period of time within the Millennium for mankind to be able to live, there will be people who do not want God’s ways and will become set against Him. Most of these will also simply conform in appearance while their true spirit actually becomes set against God, as they refuse to repent of their own opinions, ideas, and ways that oppose God’s truth.
The final group (#3) consists also of those begotten who have turned away from God and their minds have become set against Him. Yet, the actions of this group are so strongly and perversely manifested through outward acts of hatred, evil, pride, and destructive influence and works exhibited against God’s Church that the “witness” of their true spirit has already been fully established. It is clearly manifested that they are against God.
There is no need for those in this group to be resurrected to a second physical life because their evil choices and actions have already been outwardly manifested. Because of this witness, righteous judgment has already been established that they are against God. This however, does not mean that some or all from this group will not be resurrected at some specific time.
The most notable of individuals in this category is the man of sin, the son of perdition, who instigated the Apostasy. Besides this notable person in this end-time, there are many of this group who have been part of God’s Church over the past 1,900-plus years.
As I have been writing this particular post, it has been difficult dealing with this specific group and what I am to write about them, but God has been leading me in a clear direction. God has shown that He wants the people of this group to be accounted separately from the other group of those begotten who also turned against Him. The reason for making such a distinction is that we are to first recognize there is a difference as far as the matter of “judgment” is concerned.
Next, we are to have a valuable lesson reinforced in our thinking – that all judgment must be based on what God gives us. There is a difference within this group for how they are to be judged. There remains more to be revealed by God about this group, and this is not His time to do so. Speculation serves no value, and additionally, that would be unwise.
Since this series has been a type of progressive revelation, one section was not fully clarified at the time it was written. It will now be rewritten with further clarification and understanding. This entire series will be made into an article for the “Church Publication” page of the website. The rewrite will be a section in Post #8 that is under the heading “God’s Revelation Through Paul.” It is being posted here in the rest of this section entitled “Clarification.”
[The rewrite follows to the end of this post]
God is revealing two important matters in the latter part of this verse (referring to the verse that speaks of “the spirit that might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”). Many who have been disfellowshipped over the past 1,900 years plus will be resurrected in the final 100 years of the Great White Throne period. God’s Church has known this truth for several years now, but those scattered have not.
These formerly disfellowshipped individuals (from over the past 1,900 years) will have an opportunity to repent at this time (the last hundred years), during a time they can be more readily saved. They were not repentant when they had the ability and opportunity to do so when they received their calling in the age of Satan’s reign on the earth. God mercifully disfellowshipped them because their spirit would have more rapidly become “set against” Him if it continued to “continually react (wrong) spiritually” against His holy spirit.
During this final hundred years, these (the ones disfellowshipped from God’s Church) who are resurrected will not have to “live by faith” of God’s coming Kingdom (as they did before becoming disfellowshipped), but they will be able to literally see and witness first hand what it (the Kingdom of God) already has produced after being on earth for 1,000 years. These individuals will not need to “live by faith” concerning the great resurrection of most of mankind who have died over the millennia, for they will experience it themselves. They will know that they have been dead and now resurrected to physical life a second time.
In addition, these individuals will not only be able to witness a world filled with great peace and prosperity, but they will also experience the absence of Satan and of the demons’ influence upon their lives. At this time, God will grant them merciful access to Himself once again, as He revives (awakens) the spirit-begotten essence with the spirit of man that is in them. Although such individuals could not be saved during the time of Satan’s reign over mankind (after they had first been called and begotten), they now have a vastly greater potential to do so.
However, not all who have ever been disfellowshipped through time will be resurrected to a full second physical life for the purpose of “saving the spirit.” There are those who will not be resurrected for that purpose and will not be allowed to live out 100 years as others who are given a “second physical life.” God knows the mind – the true spirit of every person! Some have already “permanently chosen” that they do not want God’s ways. Even if offered repentance during the Great White Throne in the final hundred years, they would not repent. God knows who such people are, as their spirit is “set against” Him. He knows those who have already committed the unpardonable sin – those who will never repent.
There are even vast numbers of people who have lived over the past 6,000 years who will be resurrected but will not be offered the begettal of His spirit, as God knows the minds that are fully “set against” Him and who will not respond in true repentance even if offered His spirit to transform them. Of those who have lived during the past 6,000 years, whether begotten or not, there are minds that have become fully “set against” God and will never repent by their own free will. Just as there were those in the angelic realm who rejected God’s ways, so have there been many among mankind who have rejected God and will not change, regardless of the magnitude of grace God might grant them.
(Pt. 12 will follow.)