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Mystery of the Ages
(a 2nd critical review)

By William Hohmann

 

Chapter Seven - Mystery of the Kingdom of God

In chapter 7, HWA wastes no time in stating the Kingdom of God is a mystery, misunderstood and unknown not only to biblical scholars, but to all the world. This repetitious claim now sounds like a broken record.

Then comes an astounding statement to this reader: This "mystery" is associated with another mystery "of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Actually that mystery is connected with its associated mystery, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why do the churches disagree on what actually is "the gospel of Jesus Christ"? During the first twenty or thirty years after the founding of the Church in A.D.31 a violent controversy arose over the very question of what is "the gospel of Jesus Christ." (p.293)

Churches do not generally disagree on what the gospel is. They generally disagree on other things such as doctrines.

What sets up a red flag here though is HWA's usage of the term "violent controversy" which he has used before in this book, and also in his "Which Day is the Christian Sabbath" booklet. [Read my critique of this booklet.] The reason it raises a red flag is because it is a big fat lie, and whenever HWA tells a lie, he tends to make it a whopper. People are more apt to believe a big lie than a little one, so HWA embellishes his lies.

This period of time HWA quotes is within the time period when much of the New Testament writings occurred. There is no evidence of any "violent controversy." There were essentially two major conflicts extant: Gnosticism and Judaizers (the latter were trying to enjoin the Law on Gentile converts). Those who insisted Gentiles should be made to keep the Law were dealt with at the counsel in Jerusalem recorded in Acts chapter 15. Only by claiming there was this "violent controversy" is HWA able to revive this apostate belief; arguably the first heresy of the early church.

There ensued a hundred years in which all history of the New Testament Church was destroyed. It has been called "the lost century of Church history." When the curtain lifted, about the middle of the second century, there appeared an entirely different type of church calling itself Christian, but in the main preaching its own gospel ABOUT Christ, not the gospel OF Christ. (p.293)

More lies. "All" church history was not lost. There are writings from those who knew the apostles personally during this time. But in order to make his case for legalism, HWA must first get rid of the evidence that contradicts his teachings that could be found during this time frame. He sweeps the footprints off the beach as it were, so that he can reconstruct history to suit his needs. [Be sure and read the article on this site: Faith Once Delivered (Proof Herbert Armstrong Lied About the "Lost" Church Century!)]

Like all religious "cult" leaders, he must diminish Christ in some way so as to make something of greater importance in the minds of his followers. In HWA's case, it is a matter of diminishing Christ in order to magnify the Law. Jesus is then presented to us as the "messenger of the gospel," and that the gospel is not about Him, it is all about the Law in the guise of the Kingdom of God being the government of God, ruled through this law of God.

Jesus was a Messenger sent from God with a message, and that message was THE KINGDOM OF GOD. (p.294)

I mentioned earlier in a previous chapter critique that Jesus did use the terminology of the Kingdom of God, and with it spoke in parables for the purpose of disguising the gospel. The fullness of the gospel was preached by the apostles. No where do we read that the "Kingdom of God" is the emphasis of the gospel. No where do we read that the gospel is about the government of God administered through the Law. It is a total fabrication of HWA in order to gain a following after himself and to use the administration of the Law to collect tithes from people's wages, contrary to the Law! But those who believed HWA regarding the Kingdom of God were not likely to examine the rest of Scripture critically and pick up on these discrepancies.

Some denominations proclaim a "gospel of grace," some what they call a "gospel of salvation"; most a gospel about Christ; some a social gospel; some the "Science of Mind" or "Religious Science."
Not one is right! (p.294-295)

The apostle Paul refers to the gospel as being related to grace in Acts 20:24:

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."

If "Not one is right" then HWA is declaring here that the apostle Paul is wrong!

HWA then lumps the "gospel of Grace" and the "Gospel about Christ" with "Science of the Mind" and "Religious Science" in order to make a guilt by association in regards to the gospel being about Christ. It is an intellectually dishonest ploy, worthy of a false prophet.

He is the King of the future Kingdom of God, and the Bible in Daniel 7 and other places uses the terms king and Kingdom interchangeably, that is, the king is, or represents, the Kingdom he rules. (pp.294-295)

Here we witness HWA's use of cognitive dissonance that actually causes the reader to rely on his teachings while abandoning critical thinking. HWA hammers over and over that the gospel is not about Christ, but about the Kingdom. Then he throws in this little tidbit. The terms king and the Kingdom are interchangeable! Critical thinking would have us realize that the gospel then IS about Jesus Christ! But knowing this does not suit HWA's purpose. He has to sell his readers and listeners on the "government" of this Kingdom, ruled through law.

The truth is not merely surprising—it is shocking—staggering! It is a Great Mystery! Yet it is truly GOOD NEWS—the most glorious GOOD NEWS ever to enter human consciousness! (p.295)

It's stupendous! It's colossal! Like a true salesman, he builds up the excitement and anticipation in the reader. He must make the reader want this; desire this above all else; get the listener or reader prepared so that he will gladly part with his money to acquire this pearl of great price.

It is necessary to believe that GOSPEL to be saved! And how can you believe it, unless you know what it is? And for 1,900 years, the world did not know. That gospel was suppressed and replaced by man's gospel about Christ. (p.295)

If it is a matter of being a "man's" gospel about Christ, then Peter and Paul were guilty of preaching a man's gospel. Examine Acts chapters 9 and 10 for starters. I might also point out a famous quote of the apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 2:2: "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."

If the true gospel is the message of the Kingdom, where is the declaration by the apostles in the New Testament writings? Whenever the Kingdom of God is mentioned, it is never dwelled upon; it is never given specifics.

Acts 28:23: "And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the Kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening."

Acts 28:31: "Preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."

Followers of HWA would insist these are examples of Paul preaching the Kingdom of God, blinding themselves to what is really written here. Expounding and testifying the Kingdom of God had to do with persuading people "about" Jesus, and not "about" the Kingdom where Jesus is merely a messenger. The emphasis is on Jesus, and not the Kingdom.

In the next paragraph, HWA cites how Jesus preached the Kingdom of God; how he had his disciples and the seventy preach the Kingdom of God, and how he "taught" them about the Kingdom of God in Acts 1:3. HWA then totally ignores and rejects all Scripture after that point concerning what the apostles taught and preached.

Jesus instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until Pentecost. What happened then? The Holy Spirit made His debut. And what is the function of the Holy Spirit? To guide them into all truth.

John 15:26: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:"

John 14:26: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."

The apostle Paul preached THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Acts 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). And God Almighty, through Paul, pronounced a double curse on man or angel that would DARE preach any other gospel! (Gal. 1:8-9). (p.296)

Let's examine these Scriptures where Paul preached the Kingdom of God and see if they relate to the Kingdom of God being the government of God ruled by the Law.

Acts 19:8: "And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the Kingdom of God."

And what exactly were these "things"? Verse 10: "And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks."

Acts 20:25: "And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the Kingdom of God, shall see my face no more."

Acts 28:23: "And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the Kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening."

Notice that the details given here about the Kingdom of God revolve around persuading the people about Jesus from the writings of the Old Testament, and this is what was discussed "from morning till evening" and not an elaboration on the Kingdom in and of itself.

Verse 31: "Preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."

Again preaching the Kingdom of God is in relation to those things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, and not the Kingdom of God being the government of God ruled through the Law.

HWA constantly tries to shift the focus off of Jesus Christ and on to an extrapolation of the Kingdom of God and what that means to him.

Galatians 1:8-9: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

Does HWA bother to examine what this other gospel is, or does he just quote this scripture, and infer the false gospel is a gospel "about" the person Jesus? What does the context of Galatians bring out concerning this false gospel?

Galatians 1:16: "To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:"

Paul preached Jesus among the "heathen." If preaching about Jesus is the false gospel, why is Paul preaching about Christ?

Verse 23: "But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed."

Is this preaching of "the faith" faith in the Kingdom of God or faith in Jesus Christ?

Galatians 2:3-5: "But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you."

Paul begins to expose this false gospel. It has to do with false brethren who spy out Christian liberty. These false brethren desire to bring Christians into bondage with a false gospel. Part of this false gospel had to do with compelling Gentiles (Greeks) to be circumcised. Where do we find the requirement of circumcision? In the old covenant. Is the old covenant ever described as bondage? Yes. It is found in Galatians 4:22-5:1, just a few chapters hence:

"For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

Could the false gospel be related to teaching people they have to keep the Law; the old covenant? Let's continue in Galatians:

Galatians 2:11-14: "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?"

Peter was not acting in accord with the gospel. How? Because he followed the dictate of the Law not to associate with Gentiles. Peter was "keeping the Law" and in doing so, was not following the truth of the gospel.

Galatians 2:18-19: "For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God."

What did Paul "destroy" that could be built again? The law and its influence.

Galatians 3:1-3: "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"

This false gospel that was being taught by those who wanted to spy out Christian liberty and bring Christians under bondage were teaching the Law. Paul calls these Galatians foolish, for they began with the spirit and faith, and that was sufficient. Then came those who taught the Law; which law dealt with the flesh. They were convinced by these false teachers of their false gospel that attempted to add the Law to the gospel, believing it was necessary for achieving "perfection."

Galatians 3:5: "He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"

Faith and the Law are contrasted here by Paul, and continues to be.

It should be obvious (but is not to those who believed HWA) that the false gospel that this double curse of Paul is in relation to is to those who insisted people keep the Law. For those who believe HWA, it is a hard, bitter pill to swallow, for it seemed so right to keep the Law. The arguments put forth in favor of the Law by HWA were so convincing. No wonder Jesus states that, if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived. The deception; the false gospel would be that good—that convincing. Just try to convince a follower of HWA they are not required to keep the Law and that doing so and teaching others to do so is a false gospel.

The good news of THE KINGDOM OF GOD is something you must understand, and BELIEVE, in order to be saved! Jesus Christ said so! You had better be finding out what it is! (p.296)

Pay close attention to the claim of HWA here: You must understand and believe the Kingdom of God in order to be saved. It is not faith in Jesus as the Christ; it is in understanding this gospel of the Kingdom of God. HWA will now begin to make his case for the gospel being the Kingdom and not faith in Christ. The Scriptures that show it is faith in Jesus Christ that results in our salvation are plain enough that I will not quote them here. This is easily verified to anyone who wishes to do so.

Also note that HWA does not cite any scriptural references for this most important announcement! He is writing about people's salvation, and says "Jesus Christ said so," yet doesn't tell us where! How odd!

Because they rejected Christ's gospel 1,900 years ago, the world had to supplant something else in its place. They had to invent a counterfeit! So we have heard the Kingdom of God spoken of as merely a pretty platitude—a nice sentiment in human hearts—reducing it to an ethereal, unreal NOTHING! (p.296)

Again, HWA has set up a red-herring, insisting on defining the opposing viewpoint, making an accusation in the process.

I would like to point out that Paul in three passages of his letters claims love fulfills the Law, and James does so once. HWA claimed that saying love fulfills the Law was "but a Protestant way to ignore the Law." Like many other topics, HWA would play it both ways, creating more cognitive dissonance. To HWA, love fulfilling the Law is seen as a pretty platitude also, having some ethereal non-application. Then he would say that the first four commandments demonstrated "love toward God" and the last six, "love toward fellow man." In any event, to him, the way to properly fulfill the Law was to keep the Law, abide by the Law; live by the Law. In essence, love was not enough by itself; one had to demonstrate love through keeping the Law.

Those who live by the Law will die by the Law, as the Law could only condemn. Paul called it, "The ministration of death" in 2 Corinthians 3:7.

The prophet Daniel, who lived 600 years before Christ, knew that the Kingdom of God was a real Kingdom—a government ruling over literal PEOPLE on the earth. (p.297)

HWA begins the slow build up to his gospel. He carefully sets the stage here by claiming Daniel knew about the Kingdom of God being a government. HWA just makes a small step here; nearly imperceptible. It is an easy step to go from Kingdom of God to government of God—it seems like a natural progression. But does Daniel relate that there is a government of God to be set up, administered through the old covenant law? No. Nowhere in the Book of Daniel does Daniel elaborate on the Kingdom of God being a government.

The whole purpose of the DREAM was to reveal GOD'S GOVERNMENT—the fact that God RULES—the truth of THE KINGDOM OF GOD—the very thing that is the one and only true GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! And, secondly, to reveal—preserved in writing for us TODAY—what is to happen "in the latter days"—actually within the next two decades—THIS LAST HALF OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY! (p.298)

If the whole purpose of this dream was to reveal God's government, then Daniel's interpretation would have reflected that. But it is not so specific, even in this minor regard.

What is really interesting here is HWA's "prophesy." This event: God's Kingdom being set up on earth, occurring in the "last half of the twentieth century."

Deuteronomy 18:22: "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."

One should not believe him either.

This is THE TRUE GOSPEL! It is the very gospel Christ preached! It is intended for you and me TODAY! It is vital that you UNDERSTAND! (p.298)

The reader needs to realize that the Jews of Jesus' time, including the religious leaders, understood God was going to set up a Kingdom: God's Kingdom. Did this impart salvation to them? No.

Do you suppose they would have condemned Christ and killed him for preaching thus? No. They knew about the Kingdom of God. They, however, rejected the King. Those who accept the King will be in this Kingdom. Those who reject Him will not be in His Kingdom. Knowing there is to be such a Kingdom does not result in salvation. Accepting the King does.

Matthew 21:42: "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?"

What did a stone represent in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar that HWA is writing about here? The government of God? That is HWA's interpretation. Page 300:

Notice! This is speaking of KINGDOMS. It is referring to Kingdoms that bear rule over the people on earth. It is speaking of GOVERNMENTS!

This is right after HWA declared on page 299:

This, then, is GOD'S interpretation. It is decidedly not Herbert W. Armstrong's interpretation.

It is Jesus Christ who takes over the Kingdoms of this world. It is Jesus Christ who rules; who governs, and not law. He is the government. He is the King.

Isaiah 9:6: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

No doubt followers of HWA will still try to claim Jesus will rule through the Law not unlike how Israel was supposed to be ruled by God. This overlooks, though, the prophesies concerning the New Covenant with the children of Israel, which will not be like the covenant made with them when they left Egypt. See Jeremiah chapter 31. A law, the law of Christ, will be put in their hearts. They will not be ruled through a law written in stone.

Now here we have described FOUR universal world empires—the only four that ever existed! (p.301) [speaking of the Kingdoms described by the image in Daniel]

What's the United States of America? Chopped liver? The U.S.A. is the greatest, most powerful "Kingdom" that has ever existed, making the Kingdoms of the past pale in comparison.

She [the false great church] posed as the Church of God—which Scripture says (Eph. 5:23; Rev. 19:7; Matt. 25:1-10; etc.) is the affianced "bride" of CHRIST, to be spiritually MARRIED to him at his Second COMING. (p.302)

Ephesians 5:23: "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body."

Does this passage say the church (Christians) are "affianced" to Christ? No.

Revelation 19:7: "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready."

Trying to use Scriptures in Revelation to prove a belief is dangerous, seeing as most of the language used in this book is allegorical; figurative. For instance, in Rev. 21, the bride of Christ is the new Jerusalem. In any event, the marriage of the Lamb here in Revelation already refers to the other as already being a wife, and not just affianced.

Matthew 25:1-10: "Then shall the Kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut."

Just as it is theologically irresponsible to try and prove a belief with the writings of Revelation, so also from the parables. This does not prove that Christians are considered now only affianced.

Notice also that HWA, in citing these references, includes "etc." as to infer there are more proof texts, but he is not going to bother to cite them, as though this truth were self-evident.

Allow me to supply some of the "etc." Scriptures:

Romans 7:4: "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."

Does this say Christians are "married" to Christ at His return, or presently? Do Christians produce fruit unto God now, or later?

Why does HWA not cite this passage? Because it says two things he does not want people to know or understand. 1. Christians are dead to the Law, so that, 2. they can be married to Christ... now.

1 Corinthians 6:17: "But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit."

2 Corinthians 11:2: "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."

In the next several paragraphs, HWA hammers into the heads of his readers that a Kingdom and a government are the same: interchangeable. Once this concept is established, he will move forward to the next step in his false gospel.

Why do the churches of this world never mention any of these Scriptures? Millions have attended churches all their lives and never heard any of these Scriptures about Christ becoming a king or about the coming Kingdom of God. (p.304)

HWA, with boring regularity, continues to bring up false accusations against other churches. Does the reader really believe the bulk of other churches never ever mentioned Christ was born to be King of Kings?

He ascended to the Throne of God. Headquarters of the Government of the Universe (Acts 1:9-11; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; Rev. 3:21). (p.305)

Acts 1:9-11: "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

Anything here declaring heaven is headquarters of the government of the universe? No.

Hebrews 1:3: "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"

Hebrews 8:1: "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;"

Still no mention of "headquarters of the government of the universe." (Please note how HWA capitalized the words in his declaration above, as though it is all an established title.)

Hebrews 10:12: "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;"

Revelation 3:21: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."

Next to MOA Chapter Seven, Pt. 2 of 2

Table of Contents & Intro | Chap. 1 | Chap. 2 | Chap. 3 | Chap. 4 | Chap. 5 | Chap. 6 |  Chap 7  


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