Book: God's Plan for Mankind

First and foremost, all honor and glory go to God the Father and Jesus Christ for Their great and awesome “Plan for Mankind.” Astonishingly, however, God has not openly revealed His plan even in the pages of the Holy Scriptures—choosing instead to deliberately conceal this vital knowledge. Indeed, the prophets of old—when writing the Old Testament under the inspiration of God—understood few aspects of His plan.

The prophet Daniel, for example, was inspired to write a major prophetic outline of events spanning from the 600s BC to the establishment of the Kingdom of God at Jesus Christ’s return. Naturally, Daniel wanted to know what the prophecies meant. But God’s final message to Daniel was that it was not for him to know: “And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand’ ” (Dan. 12:9-10).

During His ministry Jesus told the apostles that they would come to understand things that even the prophets had never understood: “[It] has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [the people and religions of the world] it has not been given. For whoever has understanding, to him more shall be given, and he shall have an abundance; but whoever does not have understanding, even what he has shall be taken away from him…. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, ‘In hearing you shall hear, and in no way understand; and in seeing you shall see, and in no way perceive, for the heart of this people has grown fat, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed….’

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you, many prophets and righteous men have desired to see what you see, and have not seen; and to hear what you hear, and have not heard” (Matt. 13:11-12, 14-17).

The apostle Peter reaffirms what Jesus said. “Concerning which salvation the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you have diligently searched out and intently inquired, searching into what way and what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them was indicating, testifying beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and these glories that would follow; to whom it was revealed that, not for themselves, but to us they were ministering these things, which now have been announced to you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit, sent from heaven—into which things the angels desire to look” ( I Peter 1:10-12).

Jesus Christ provided substantially more knowledge of God’s plan—the “Mystery of God”—to the apostles than any of the prophets and writers of the Old Testament. Yet, He did not reveal the fullness of God’s plan to all of the apostles. Most of them—with the exception of John, Phillip and Andrew—died without a complete knowledge of God’s plan. Jesus revealed the final missing pieces of the puzzle to John, who then wrote the book of Revelation and canonized the entire New Testament, with the help of Phillip and Andrew.

Indeed, the apostles received more knowledge and understanding of God’s plan than any of God’s servants had up to that time. It was not until the New Testament was completed and canonized, however, that God’s entire plan for mankind was recorded. And although the complete Word of God was subsequently preserved and made widely available, the knowledge of God’s plan remained, for the most part, hidden—and would continue to be a “mystery” until the time of the end, just as the Lord had told Daniel (Dan. 12:10). As we will see, the next vital step in God’s plan was to raise up His true Church through Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son—God manifested in the flesh.

God Revealed His Plan to His Churchthe True Church of God: Jesus Christ personally proclaimed that He would build His Church and that the gates of the grave would not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18)—and that He would always be with His Church even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). Jesus Christ Himself established the Church of God on the day of Pentecost in AD 30 (Acts 2). Under the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ used the apostles to preach the true Gospel of salvation and to raise up the many congregations that would comprise the Church of God. The true Church of God is not a building, cathedral, or corporation. Rather, it consists of all the men and women whom God the Father and Jesus Christ have chosen and called out of this world. It is a “little flock” (Luke 12:32) that has been set apart and sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit.

In New Testament Greek the word for “church” is ekklesia, which means “the assembly of called-out ones.” Jesus Christ is the living Head of the Church—also called the “body of Christ” (I Cor. 12:27)—for God the Father “has given Him [Jesus Christ] to be head over all things to the church, which is His body” (Eph. 1:22-23). Throughout the New Testament we find that the body of Christ—which is the true Church of God—consists of many churches, or assemblies, of called-out believers. It was through the preaching and inspired writings of the apostles that the New Testament churches were raised up. We find the early history of the Church of God in the book of Acts, the epistles of James, Peter and John, and especially in the writings of Paul.

Jesus Christ revealed God’s plan and purpose for mankind to His apostles and New Testament prophets, and they in turn taught the congregations of the Church of God. The apostle Paul, for example, wrote: “For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles, if indeed you have heard of the ministry of the grace of God that was given to me for you; how He made known to me by revelation the mystery (even as I wrote briefly before, so that when you read this, you will be able to comprehend my understanding in the mystery of Christ), which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles might be joint heirs, and a joint body, and joint partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a servant according to the gift of the grace of God, which was given to me through the inner working of His power.

“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, was this grace given, that I might preach the gospel among the Gentiles—even the unsearchable riches of Christ; and that I might enlighten all as to what is the fellowship of the mystery that has been hidden from the ages in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places, according to His eternal purpose, which He has wrought in Christ Jesus our Lord, in Whom we have boldness and direct access with confidence through His very own faith” (Eph. 3:1-12).

Paul explains that the purpose of the ministry is to teach the brethren, grounding them firmly into the perfection of Jesus Christ: “And He gave some as apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; so that we no longer be children, tossed and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men in cunning craftiness, with a view to the systematizing of the error; but holding the truth in love, may in all things grow up into Him Who is the Head, even Christ from Whom all the body, fitly framed and compacted together by that which every joint supplies, according to its inner working in the measure of each individual part, is making the increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:11-16).

Identifying Signs of the True Church of God: There are thousands of churches claiming to be “Christian.” But how does the Bible define and describe the true Church of God? Listed below are major characteristics of the true believers who make up the body of Christ:

  1. Has an unwavering belief in Jesus Christ as personal Savior—as one Who was born of the virgin Mary, was God manifested in the flesh, and was crucified for the sins of the world as the perfect sacrifice from God the Father on the Passover day in AD 30; believes that after three days and nights in the grave Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of the Father and ascended bodily into heaven to be received by God the Father as the sacrifice for the sins of the world on the first day of the fifty-day count to Pentecost; and that He returned to the earth that same day to show Himself to the apostles and give them additional instructions for 40 days—and was finally received up into heaven again to sit at the right hand of God the Father as Savior and High Priest to intercede and mediate for His people.
  2. Believes that salvation is by grace through faith in the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ—on the condition of deep repentance of past sins and baptism by full immersion in water, after which God the Father gives the begettal of the Holy Spirit to the believer.
  3. Has the love and faith of Jesus Christ, and keeps the commandments of God.
  4. Holds to the testimony of Jesus Christ and the spirit of prophecy—meaning they will understand the prophecies contained in the Scriptures as Jesus Christ reveals them; awaits the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, at which time all who have died in Christ—with the saints who are still alive—will be raised to immortality to rule and reign with Christ on the earth.
  5. Faithfully keeps the seventh-day Sabbath, the Christian Passover and the annual holy days of God according to the God-ordained calculated Hebrew Calendar. A true Christian will also reject Sunday-keeping and the religious holidays of the established Roman and Protestant “Christian” religions.

A Brief Overview of God’s True Church Through History: For the purposes of this book, it is not feasible to give a detailed history of the true Church of God from the first century to today. A brief overview, however, is essential if we are to understand how the knowledge of God’s plan was both comprehended and disseminated by the churches of God down through the ages.

During the apostolic era, the apostles, elders and ministers of Jesus Christ spread the true Gospel into all the Roman Empire. Starting at Jerusalem, small church congregations were established over time throughout Asia Minor, as well as in Greece, Italy, North Africa, the British Isles, Ireland, Scotland and Norway. Stretching to the East, congregations were formed in Babylon, Parthia and India.

A prophetic history of the Church of God is detailed in the letters to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3—a period spanning from the death of the apostle John in AD 95 to the return of Jesus Christ. True to Jesus’ words, there has always been—from the time of the original apostles to today—a small, scattered body of true, faithful believers known as the “children of God.”

After the establishment of the great, state-ordained counterfeit “Christian” religion under Constantine in AD 325, the true churches of God were persecuted and thus scattered. But true followers of Jesus Christ—faithful, passionate and immovable—continued to keep the Sabbath, Passover and annual holy days and feasts of God in Asia Minor, Syria, Armenia and Babylon until nearly AD 1100.

Many who fled the confines of the Roman Empire in AD 325 settled in the Alps, where they were protected by God and continued to observe His Sabbath, Passover and annual festivals for 1260 years. Often referred to as Paulicans or Waldensians, they sent out teams of ministers, two by two, into all of Europe. Typically, they operated “under cover” as merchants in order to avoid persecution and arrest at the hands of Roman Catholic Church officials and clergy.

Likewise, they were able to preach the Gospel and raise up small home churches and small congregations in Switzerland, Austria, Bohemia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and even Scandinavia. Toward the close of the 14th century, the Roman Catholic Church launched an intense campaign of persecution against the Waldensians—not only because of their adherence to the Sabbath, Passover and many of the holy days, but because they refused to acknowledge the authority of the pope and his hierarchical clergy. They were persecuted as well because they refused to accept Catholicism’s anti-scriptural, “Christianized” pagan sacraments and beliefs: the Eucharist and the transubstantiation of the wine and bread, that God is a trinity, Mary worship, idol worship, prayers to the “saints,” infant baptism, heaven, hell and purgatory, indulgences, Sunday-worship and the pagan holidays of the Roman Church. Thus, the Roman authorities declared them heretics and imprisoned, tortured and killed thousands of stalwart, true Christians. By 1627 the remaining Waldensians had been reduced to a pitiful few thousand who were released from prison and allowed to escape over the Alps to Geneva in the middle of winter.

Other historical records relating to the apostle Paul indicate that the gospel was preached to believers and new converts in the British Isles—as well as in Ireland and Scotland. From that time there were always small congregations of the Church of God—though called by different names. Some eventually formed what later became known as the Celtic Church in Britain. Schools were raise up in Scotland, sending evangelical teams out to preach the Gospel in Europe and Scandinavia.

After the Protestant Reformation in Europe and England, small groups of believers from the Puritans and Seventh Day Baptists fled to the American colonies, where freedom of religion and conscience allowed such groups to flourish. Continuing to call themselves Seventh Day Baptists, numerous small congregations were soon raised up throughout the northern colonies. Eventually they spread to nearly all parts of the United States, becoming collectively known as the Seventh Day Church of God or the Church of God, Seventh Day. In the 1840s, the Seventh Day Adventists church formed, splitting off from the Church of God, Seventh Day. (Detailed accounts of these events are found in two books, A History of the True Religion by Dugger and Dodd, and The History of the Church of God Seventh Day by Richard Nickels.)

While few of these small congregations of the Church of God kept the annual holy days and feasts perfectly, they did strictly observe the seventh day Sabbath and kept the Christian Passover on the 14th of Nisan—the night in which Jesus was betrayed. Though their works and knowledge were incomplete, they were nonetheless God’s people.

Beginning in the early 1900s, Church of God, Seventh Day minister G. G. Rupert began a revival of the observance of the holy days and feasts of God. As he and his followers began keeping God’s feasts, God began to reveal to Rupert the meaning of those days— and their importance in God’s plan. In 1917—after studying Rupert’s explanations of God’s holy days—Elder Cole Sr. brought this vital information to the attention of the Church of God, Seventh Day leadership, elders Dugger and Dodd. At that time, Dugger and Dodd rejected the scriptural information concerning God’s festivals. (In the 1950s, however, Dugger accepted the truth of God’s holy days and relocated his organization’s headquarters to Jerusalem— from which he actively preached God’s Sabbath and festivals, raising up many Church of God, Seventh Day congregations on the East Coast of the United States.)

Elder Cole Sr. taught his son Otis about God’s Sabbath and holy days. In 1927, Otis Cole and his family fellowshipped with a small Church of God, Seventh Day congregation near Eugene, Oregon. That same year, Herbert W. Armstrong and his wife Loma attended with Cole and began to understand God’s Sabbath and holy days.

Armstrong was ordained an elder in the Church of God, Seventh Day in 1931. In 1932, Armstrong likewise presented the truth about God’s holy days to Dugger and Dodd. Again, they rejected the information. Subsequently—after a split in the Church of God, Seventh Day in Eugene—Armstrong formed another congregation where he could preach the truth of God’s Word, including the holy days. While still working with Church of God, Seventh Day organizations headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and Salem, West Virginia, Armstrong began intensive evangelistic campaigns. In the early 1930s, radio broadcasting was fast becoming a powerful medium for preaching the Gospel. In 1934, Armstrong began a radio ministry in Eugene, Oregon—with a program called “The World Tomorrow”—which led to the formation of what he called the “Radio Church of God.” Later that same year, Armstrong began publishing The Plain Truth magazine, which ultimately proved to be the more effective of the two in building up church membership.

The church and radio ministry grew rapidly, prompting Armstrong to relocate to Pasadena, California, in 1947. He also founded Ambassador College that year—with a beginning class of only five students—in order to train men and women to serve the growing number of congregations God was raising up as a result of Armstrong’s efforts.

In 1953, the “The World Tomorrow” program began airing on Radio Luxembourg in Europe, a major step in the growth of what Armstrong called “the Work.” Indeed, “the Work” grew at an unheard-of pace throughout the 1950s and ’60s. Armstrong added a second Ambassador campus in Bricketwood, England, in 1960—with a third campus established in the early 1970s in Big Sandy, Texas. Beginning in the late 1950s, the responsibility of then-worldwide radio program began to shift to Armstrong’s son, Garner Ted. For the next 25 years or so, Garner Ted Armstrong would be the voice of “The World Tomorrow” program—which eventually grew to be heard on thousands of radio stations around the world, reaching millions of people.

But in the 1970s Armstrong’s organization—which by then had been renamed the “Worldwide Church of God” (WCG)—began to experience internal strife and division. Corruption was rampant, often involving gross sexual sin; millions of dollars of income were misappropriated. Armstrong attempted to “clean house”—and was ultimately forced to remove Garner Ted in 1978 for continued and repeated sexual sin.

Ted subsequently formed the Church of God International, from which he was expelled in 1995 for similar adulterous affairs. He then founded the Intercontinental Church of God, which continued until his sudden death in September 2003.

Throughout much of the 1980s the WCG again found its stride—powerfully proclaiming the true Gospel to the world until Herbert Armstrong’s death in January 1986 at age 93. By that time, worldwide attendance was around 120,000, with nearly a thousand ministers and thousands of elders. At its peak, there were nearly eight million monthly subscribers to The Plain Truth magazine, and “The World Tomorrow” television program was rated as the number two religious program in America. The WCG’s annual income neared $200,000,000—more than Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham combined pulled in.

Just before his death, however, Armstrong appointed Joseph W. Tkach Sr. as his successor— a move that would prove devastating to proclaiming the truth of the Scriptures and would signal the impending demise of the organization. As many would ultimately come to realize, it was in fact the beginning of the correction of God against an apostate church and ministry.

Strongly influenced by his son, Joseph W. Tkach Jr., and other apostate ministers, Tkach set out to methodically transform the WCG, bringing it into alignment with mainstream Protestantism—primarily to attract the admiration and approval of the world’s “Christian” leaders. In September 1995, Tkach died of cancer, leaving his son, Joe Tkach Jr., as successor. Almost immediately, the downward spiral accelerated: the Gospel was corrupted; the Law of God was proclaimed (as do Protestants) to be non-binding; the Sabbath and holy days were dismissed and rejected as “Jewish.” Tkach Jr. began to institute the observance of Sunday and several pagan holidays. These moves caused the WCG to fragment even more—with hundreds of ministers and thousands of members leaving to form other churches of God in order to hold fast to the true teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ.

Within the space of a few years, the glory of the WCG was gone—its ministry and membership decimated, scattered among literally hundreds of so-called “splinter” groups. Indeed—because of the widespread collective sins of the church’s leadership, ministers and members—Jesus Christ, the true Head of His Church, has resoundingly brought the WCG and its colleges to “nothing.” In a few short years, their memory will all but evaporate— being only a footnote recounted by history. Thus, the Armstrong era came to an ignominious end.

But Jesus Christ is true to His word—for out of the ruins of the WCG and the Armstrong era, God has raised up a remnant of numerous faithful ministers who continue today to proclaim the true Gospel—teaching the true meaning of the Sabbath and the holy days, and serving the needs of God’s faithful brethren. As in ages past, they firmly stood for God the Father, Jesus Christ and the truth of the Word of God—and did not fall victim to Satan’s relentless assaults against the churches of God.

Because of the widespread corruption and sins of the WCG, the author resigned on the Day of Atonement, October 1979. He and his wife Dolores made their stand for the truth of God—especially for the Sabbath and holy days of God (See About the Author). The Christian Biblical Church of God and Coulter’s ministry—providing audio/video sermons, books and other literature expounding the truth of the Bible—has now grown worldwide and is serving approximately 4,500 faithful brethren. In addition, in 2006, nearly 400,000 people visited the church’s Website (cbcg.org) to download various audio messages and written material.

According to the Bible Sabbath Association, it is estimated that the churches of God today number well over 500 worldwide—with over 340 coming from the scattering of the WCG. This includes large and small church organizations in virtually every nation, comprising thousands of ministers and hundreds of thousands of true believers who keep God’s Sabbath and holy days. Of the known churches of God, the majority are located in the United States—not counting the tens of thousands of “house churches” across the nation and around the world.

In addition, there is an unknown number of small churches of God and isolated faithful believers around the world who live by the Bible, keep the Sabbath and some the holy days. The Seventh Day Adventist movement has grown into a vast organization with nearly three million members worldwide, including approximately 100,000 who also observe the annual holy days of God. Finally, it is estimated that there are ten million Sabbatarian Christians worldwide—including hundreds of thousands of underground Sabbath-keepers in China alone.

This short overview gives a thumbnail sketch of the history of the true Church of God from the time of Jesus Christ until today. It is quite different from the traditional “Orthodox” history presented by the counterfeit “Christianity” of this world.

Remember Jesus’ instruction to His disciples: “[It] has been given to you [the true disciples and the true Church of God] to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [the world with its counterfeit religions] it has not been given” (Matt. 13:11). Thus, the true scriptural knowledge and understanding of God’s plan for mankind—as revealed by His Sabbath and holy days—will not be found in the churches of Orthodox Christianity. God only imparts this knowledge to those who love Him and keep His commandments— including His commanded seventh-day Sabbath and annual holy days. On the other hand, all who reject God’s Sabbath and holy days—and instead observe Sunday and various pagan holidays—are excluded from this vital, revealed knowledge. As Jesus said, in “seeing, they see not; and hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, ‘In hearing you shall hear, and in no way understand; and in seeing you shall see, and in no way perceive; for the heart of this people has grown fat, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed…’ ” (verses 13-15).

Consequently, very little of the knowledge of God’s plan for mankind that you will read in this book and hear from the CD messages will be found in the Orthodox Christianity of this world. It is only found in the Word of God and revealed to those ministers and congregations of the true Church of God who observe the Sabbath and annual holy days. As Jesus said to His disciples, “Blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you, many prophets and righteous men have desired to see what you see, and have not seen; and to hear what you hear, and have not heard” (verses 16-17).

May Jesus’ blessing be upon you as you read and study this book and listen to the sermons—so that you may be able to truly understand the biblical truth about God’s plan for mankind as revealed by His Sabbath and holy days.

Further Acknowledgments: Special heartfelt and loving thanks to my lovely wife, Dolores, who gave her encouragement and help in editing much of the introductory material of this book. Thanks to Jim and Betty Hyles—who first suggested that we produce this book. Jim personally assists the author in numerous aspects of serving the brethren, including writing letters and handling administrative and technical matters for the CBCG. His wife Betty reproduces and mails out our four special “Care Packages” of studies and sermons to people who request them.

A special thanks goes to those who did the wearisome work of transcribing the sermons that comprise the main text of this book: Carolyn Singer, Michael Schwartz, Bonnie Orswell, Judith Anderson and Sasha Vogele. John and Hiedi Vogele did the tedious job of compiling and laying out the pages of the book. Dick and Bette Young proofread many of the transcripts. We acknowledge our editor, Philip Neal, for his editing of the non-transcript portions of the book. Finally, special thanks go to Cindy Curley—Curley Creatives—for the beautiful art work and design of the front cover. None of this, however, could have been accomplished without the ongoing love, prayers and support of thousands of God’s people.

All of us together can affirm what Jesus told His apostles: “My meat is to do the will of Him Who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do not say that there are yet four months, and then the harvest comes. I say to you, look around. Lift up your eyes and see the fields, for they are already white to harvest. And the one who reaps receives a reward, and gathers fruit unto eternal life; so that the one who is sowing and the one who is reaping may both rejoice together. For in this the saying is true, that one sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap that in which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor” (John 4:34-38). How true this is today! Indeed, we have entered into the sowing and reaping of nearly two thousand years of God’s true ministers and servants down through history—many of whom willingly gave their lives in standing up for the truth so that we, in the end times, may reap of their labor. May God the Father and Jesus Christ count us worthy to receive and share the knowledge of this awesome plan for mankind as revealed in the Word of God.

Fred R. Coulter
Winter 2007, 2013

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