The Great Commission
God’s people today still have a mandate to fulfill the “Great Commission” that Jesus Christ gave to the
Church? What was the purpose of the great commission? Has it been fulfilled?
be sure, you will not find the term “great commission” in the Bible. However, Mr. Armstrong DID use that term
many times to describe the first of the two-fold mission or work of God’s Church during the Philadelphia era. The first of course being: “To preach the true gospel to the world as a
witness” (Matt. 24:14), and the second was to: “Feed the flock”.
should be stated at the outset the PURPOSE of Christ’s commission mentioned in Matt. 24:14. The purpose of the gospel
going to the world was to be a WITNESS, and only a witness. That IS what the scripture says. Not to “convert”
or “save” anyone. This was explained and made evident by Mr. Armstrong many times. However DURING this time of
witnessing to the world, many were “called” into God’s Church, it was indeed afterall the time that the
spiritual temple was being built.
article will show much PROOF as we proceed, that Mr. Armstrong did indeed fulfill this commission. He stated many times in
the last 3 years or so of his life, that the true gospel HAD BEEN preached in EVERY nation on this earth.
the big question here is: “Is there still a mandate to preach the gospel to the world today?”, OR has it been
fulfilled? And if so, WHAT are we to do?
wrote a longer article on this almost 10 years ago with basically the same proof that will be shown in this one. I submitted
this to various self proclaimed “scholars” in some of the larger church groups that have splintered off from the
old WCG. And in EVERY case, it was more or less pooh-poohed away as some insignificant ramblings of a “confused”
lay member. BUT, the proof is still there nonetheless, and it will be made PLAIN.
think about this for a moment. HOW can the true gospel be preached today in this Laodicean era? Each group out there has its
“own version” of the gospel. How, you ask? Well at first they may “appear” to be the same or almost
the same in their beliefs. But, then WHY are they divided? It is because they are NOT in agreement! If they were, they (we)
would all be united! The Bible says that two canNOT walk together unless they be in agreement. This most certainly is NOT
the case today throughout the “churches” of God.
is WHY when you read in Revelation 3, you DO NOT see an OPEN DOOR given to Laodicea, as was given to
Philadelphia (Rev. 3:8). This in itself should be proof enough to show why the true gospel cannot be effectively
preached today. But as we go on, we will see that the commission to take that gospel to the world HAS ALREADY been fulfilled!
Many today just plain refuse to acknowledge this! They have many excuses or reasons that they must continue on with that gospel
message, but they refuse to see what has ALREADY been done.
24:14 is fulfilled prophecy!
we see ANY of the splinters or groups growing today at any significant pace? Of course not. Some do claim a “little”
growth here or there occaisionally, but it’s not much. Listen, the Baptist and Muslim and Catholic religions are growing
at a much faster pace today than these groups are! So if they “think” that God is blessing their efforts, they
need to think again. Their work is based on HUMAN EFFORTS, and not by the power of God.
how the work grew and grew while Mr. Armstrong was alive? Especially from 1978 to 1986 when the Church was being put back
on track again (from the liberal attacks). But even going back to 1934 through 1986, the Church had many years of growth and
expansion. This was prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes. The Philadelphia era was given
an OPEN DOOR to go to the world, and it was given ONLY to Philadelphia!
the Church was under strong leadership. Led by a faithful servant who would NOT COMPROMISE one “iota” with God’s
today we see almost 400 different groups splintered off from God’s Church, ALL claiming to BE God’s Church! This SHOULD NOT BE!
just “assuming” that the gospel IS to be preached today, who then has the AUTHORITY to so? ONLY apostles
have that authority! But there are NO apostles today. That also is evident by the mass confusion we see today in God’s
Church. Many “reason” around this today by saying that they are still carrying on “Mr. Armstrong’s
work” or the work he was given to do. And because of this faulty reasoning, we can SEE the result- NO FRUIT being born,
NO GROWTH!. God is NOT BLESSING these works of men who are attempting to duplicate what was done through Mr. Armstrong. Just
as God is NOT BLESSING the works of other men and their groups who no longer hold to the basic truths that God gave us through
Mr. Armstrong. Some of these groups are building upon their own “new revelation”. But they are works of “men”,
and they will NOT prosper. They will “come to nought”.
let’s look at a few of Mr. Armstrong’s own statements about this gospel commission.
are countless examples in Mr. Armstrong’s writings and publications about WHO was given the “authority”
to proclaim Christ’s gospel message as well as how it was to be administered. Notice for example in MOA: “Mystery
Of The Ages” (softback ed.). On page 218 Mr. Armstrong was just stating
the two-fold commission of the Church. In fact he says the FIRST commission is the “great” one. At the top of
page 219 he says:
first and great commission was given to the apostles.”
goes on to state that evangelists and other ministers under the apostle also have some responsiblility in this, but it has
to be UNDER the apostle’s supervision!
what Mr. Armstrong writes on page 202 of MOA under the subheading “One Church with one government”. He writes:
were leading ministers, proclaiming the gospel to the public, even raising up local churches and having supervision over some
churches under the apostle.”
as has been stated earlier, there is NO apostle alive today to “supervise” these evangelists or other ministers.
And we can SEE the result of this.
back to page 219, under the subheading “Part of the Lay Member”. In the first paragraph Mr. Armstrong writes:
example what part does the individual local member have in taking the gospel message to ALL THE WORLD? This is done primarily
and directly by the APOSTLE.”
these are only a couple of examples, but it should be clear that Mr. Armstrong knew and taught to us, that only
the apostles had the authority to take the gospel to the world. This can be found in many of his writings with only minimal
DID the true gospel go to the whole world, and into every nation? Listen to what Mr. Armstrong says in one of
his very last coworker letters. In fact I will post the whole letter because it is a short one. It follows:
CHURCH OF GOD
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91123
Brethren and Co-Workers:
Once again the time has come to send each of you your
for tithes and offerings -- for 1985.
I want you to realize the magnitude of the accomplishments
have helped make possible this past year -- yet I wonder if it is
possible to comprehend just how great is the work the
Christ is accomplishing through our combined efforts and
under him and through the boundless power of the great
We are humanly inclined to judge by what we can see
physically. What we see physically is a small church body on
earth. Yet what we should see spiritually is something so
as to defy any comparison, so colossal above all that
been accomplished by all the combined efforts of the large
of this world. Spiritually it is a gigantic worldwide
compared to no spiritual accomplishment whatever.
Jesus Christ sent forth the first apostles to the small
of that day centered around the Mediterranean Sea. In 20
there was violent controversy over whether the gospel to be
was a gospel ABOUT Christ, or the gospel OF Christ. For
1,900 years Christ's Gospel of the Kingdom of God was there-
NOT PROCLAIMED to the world. But Jesus had said, "THIS
of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a
unto ALL NATIONS, and then shall the end [of this world]
The tithes and offerings of this small church began
proclaiming 1,900 years later the Gospel of the Kingdom -- the
true Gospel -- throughout Europe after it had gone forth for 19
over the United States and Canada.
It is now true that this Gospel has been proclaimed within
EVERY NATION ON EARTH BY
THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD.
NO OTHER CHURCH has proclaimed THIS true Gospel at all!
Following are current worldwide figures you should know
+ Seventy-four million PLAIN TRUTH magazines were either
mailed to subscribers or distributed through
+ Seven million GOOD NEWS issues were sent out.
+ Two million YOUTH 85 magazines went to young and old
+ Six million booklets, books and reprint articles were
mailed upon request.
+ More than one million Ambassador College Bible
Correspondence Course lessons were sent
+ Our Mail Processing Center received more than one
phone calls, mostly in response to the WORLD
program on television.
+ Our offices around the world received more than 10
letters from subscribers responding to the
work of the
What tremendous accomplishments your tithes and offerings
made possible in 1985. Now let's keep it up in 1986!
With love and gratitude, in Jesus' name,
Herbert W. Armstrong
point being made above of course is that Mr. Armstrong stated that the gospel HAD BEEN proclaimed, and to EVERY nation on
notice something overlooked or “ignored” by many today. In MOA pages 238 and 239, under the subheading: “Restoration
of God’s Truth to Church”. On page 238 Mr. Armstrong writes:
era of the Church was to produce fruit. To this era – or to
its human leader- God had set before it an open door.”
page 239 Mr. Armstrong goes on to state the prophecies of the coming ELIJAH (Mal. 3:1-5, 4:5-6) as well as the commission
in Matt. 24:14, and that the door was to be opened TO THIS LEADER of the Philadelphia era. Then concerning these two prophecies, down in the fourth paragraph
Mr. Armstrong states:
prophecies have now definately been fulfilled. The true gospel has been restored and has now gone
in power into every nation on the face of the earth.”
read that again! WHY is it that the majority of God’s people today have either forgotton this or ignore it completely!
Why is this so hard for so many to believe? The PROOF is there for all to see. Most of us LIVED through or DURING the Philadelphia
time period when God did a great worldwide work through Mr. Armstrong! Can any of God’s true people DENY this?
Matthew 24 verse 3, Christ’s diciples came to Him asking for what would be the SIGN that the end of the age was near
and the return of Christ would occur. Then Christ gives them many “signs”
in verses 6-13. Then in verse 14 He says this gospel of the kingdom would be preached in all the world as a WITNESS, then
the end would come.
that gospel HAS BEEN preached in ALL the world, to ALL nations. And something DID end! The end of the Philadelphia
era happened. Now we are in the Laodicean era and the church “age” is about to end. Believe it or not there are
some today in God’s Church that are “not sure” IF we are in the Laodicean time period! They simply don’t
SEE it. In Rev. 3:18 Christ says to the Laodiceans: “ANNOINT YOUR EYES WITH EYE SALVE, THAT YOU MAY SEE”.
This is referring to “spiritual” blindness.
Mr. Armstrong died in 1986, there was talk for a short time about the “passing of the baton” to Mr. Tkach. It
was even shown in a “behind the work” film at the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall of 1986. Many of us saw that
film. But shortly thereafter that term was “snuffed out” and NOT
mentioned again. Why? Could it be because “someone” at headquarters in Pasadena began to realize what it signified?
this excerpt from the May 1986 Good News:
"Passing the Baton"
Though God has chosen to take the life of Herbert W.
the late human leader of God's Church, both the Church
the work of God continue unabated under the leadership of
Jesus said the gates of the grave would never prevail
God's Church (Matthew 16:18). The announcement of God's
kingdom must still be made to all the world (Matthew
Disciples must still be made of all nations (Matthew
Jesus Christ, the living
Head of the Church (Ephesians
is at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. He
to actively lead and govern the Church through Mr.
designated successor, Joseph W. Tkach.
Mr. Armstrong termed his appointment of Mr. Tkach "the
of the baton." It's interesting how a baton is passed. It
not passed to end a race, but to continue a race, with a
readjustment as the baton is handed from one runner to
next. Once the baton is received by the next runner, there is
speeding up. That's what's going to happen in the work today!
we're going to go on running, under the human
of Joseph W. Tkach, with the baton that was given to
Armstrong before us, with the teachings God revealed through
using what has already been accomplished, building on the
and continuing toward the finish line.
A native of Chicago, Illinois, Mr. Tkach served in the U.S.
during World War II. Following his military service, he
industrial management, industrial safety and human
in industry. In 1946, he was employed by a midwestern
corporation, where he began his management
Before he resigned to assume a full-time role in the
Mr. Tkach was responsible for several hundred
He was once fired for keeping God's Sabbath, which falls on
"I was threatened if I didn't come in on that Sabbath for a
meeting that I would be fired," Mr. Tkach recalls. "Upon
home from church services there was a telegram waiting for
stating that I was fired.
"Monday morning I received a telephone call from the
manager saying, 'Management would like you to come in
as fast as you can get here. I didn't know what to
says Mr. Tkach. "But after arriving at the plant, out in
parking lot there were over 200 people milling around on a
strike because they heard I was fired.
"You see, we serve a God
who fights our battles for us. My
was given back to me."
March 31, 1951, Mr. Tkach married Elaine Apostolos, a native
Chicago. Mr. and Mrs. Tkach have a son and two daughters. Mr.
was baptized on March 1, 1957, in Chicago, Illinois, and
to assist the ministry in the Chicago churches. He was
a deacon January 7, 1961, and a local elder June 3,
Mr. Tkach -- now the Pastor General -- helped establish churches
South Bend, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, Indiana; Rockford and
Illinois; Davenport, Iowa; Grand Rapids, Michigan;
Wisconsin; Cincinnati, Ohio; and St. Louis, Missouri.
In 1966 Mr. Tkach entered Ambassador College, where he
for three years before being assigned to serve in
in Southern California. In 1970 he began working in
Services. In 1974 he was raised in rank to preaching
Mr. Tkach was named director of Ministerial Services (now
Administration) in July, 1979. That same year, Mr.
ordained Mr. Tkach an evangelist and named him
pastor of the Pasadena Auditorium P.M. church, pastored
Mr. Armstrong. Mr. Tkach was also appointed by him in 1981 to
Advisory Council of Elders, an advisory body to the Pastor
"He taught us the importance of why we were called," Mr.
says, referring to Mr. Armstrong. "We are here to be
Now is not the time to throw up our hands and to quit.
is the time to stand up and be counted to do God's work.
this is our life.
"So as the chapters are increased in the living book of
there should be no gaps, but merely a marker of
to help us start building where Mr. Armstrong left
This is the legacy that has been left to us, to carry on
the work. We have an awesome responsibility."
notice what Mr. Armstrong says in Mystery of the Ages. He uses this term of “passing the baton” to show changing
of CHURCH ERAS! On page 232 is the subheading: “Seven Church Eras”.
On page 233 Mr. Armstrong writes:
history of the Church would fall into seven distinct eras – each with its own strengths and weaknesses and its own special
trials and problems. Just as a message could pass along the mail route from Ephesus
to Laodicea, so would the truth of God be passed from era to era. It was like
a relay race – in which the baton is passed from runner to runner, each one doing his part, until the finish
line is reached. Some time during the early decades of the second century, the
baton was passed from the Ephesian era to the people that God had called to the Smyrna era of His Church.”
Armstrong then goes on to show that the “baton was passed” from Church era to Church era all down through history.
So was Mr. Armstrong trying to tell us something when he said his appointment of Mr. Tkach as pastor general was the
“passing of the baton”? It should be very evident today! Mr. Armstrong
was aware of a lot more than he is given credit for!
Armstrong made it very clear over and over again that the job of preaching the gospel to the world was the job of an APOSTLE.
Can we begin to see why NONE of the Laodicean groups are experiencing growth?
They simply are not being blessed because they do NOT have an open door to preach that gospel. That door was closed when
Mr. Armstrong died. There was some “residual” growth in the WCG for a year or so after he died, but that
was still as a result of what God did through HIM. The truth and doctrines were already being watered down or changed by this
what then IS the “work” of God today? It SHOULD have been exactly what Mr. Armstrong said. The Church was to continue
on, with the ministers feeding the local congregations with the spiritual food they needed. But that has NOT been done. All the ministers had to do is CONTINUE to follow the doctrine and directives set
forth by the apostle. EXCEPT for the gospel commission which was the apostle's job. But that has NOT happened. Instead
an apostacy took place, and a falling away from the truth. Then when ministers DID begin to leave the WCG (the majority in
the mid 1990’s) they had already adopted so much “watered down” or polluted doctrine, that it was too late.
what do we see? A Church DIVIDED! There is NO strong leader or apostle to take
charge and again “make straight the way”. Instead there are “many” ways. Many churches, many
differing doctrines, many “gospels”.
beginning to come more clear to some of us that ONLY the mighty power of God can straighten this mess out! And that is exactly
what is prophesied to happen soon. God will empower his two witnessess. They will be the final two humans doing any noticable
work of God. And they WILL BE NOTICED! Only God knows who they are or from where they will come, and when.
the mean time God gives us instruction and encouragement from His Word. Jesus Christ is STILL High Priest! Do we not have
access to the throne room of God, through PRAYER? Christ is the GOOD SHEPHERD (John 10). He will not forsake His faithful
elect. They HEAR His voice.