The doctrinal changes that took place in the Worldwide Church of God in 1974, were not based on the fear of God. They were based on the desire to please men. For 40 years, prior to this, the Church adhered to the Bible teaching that Truth comes by means of divine revelation. After 1974 this no longer mattered. What became important was the word of scholars, and technical arguments became the basis for the doctrinal changes.
The Scriptures Given by Revelation
According to the Bible, the recorded Scriptures were given by divine revelation. The Church is called “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Many churches of God profess to understand the Scriptures, yet many differing doctrinal views exist among these churches. It is clear they all do not believe the same thing. Is Christ divided? Not according to the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 1:10-13).
In the Bible the Scriptures are defined as Truth. The angel told Daniel: “But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince” (Dan. 10:21). Jesus said the Word of God-Bible Scripture-is Truth (John 17:17). He was referring to the Old Testament passages. Jesus delineated the three divisions of the Old Testament when He explained to His disciples: ” . . . These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44). The Psalms are commonly referred to as “the writings” and include those books not contained in the Pentateuch and historical accounts. By describing these sections, Jesus laid out the basic divisions of the Old Testament. These, He said, are Truth-the inspired Word of God. The New Testament Scriptures were added at a later date.
The Apostle Peter said these Scriptures were given by revelation. “For the prophecy [inspired utterance] came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy [Spirit]” (2 Pet. 1:21). Clearly, what is recorded and preserved in the Old Testament was given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Truth has been preserved in both the Old and New Testaments for our learning today. The Scriptures, however, are laid out in such a way that they are difficult to understand. This is for a purpose. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:9-10).
As precept upon precept, and line upon line were added, they formed a continual solid chain of Truth that does not contradict itself. This is why Jesus said, “. . . the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). To properly understand biblical truth, all the Scriptures on a given subject must be examined. One of the most remarkable things about the Bible is that these Scriptures were inspired and given over a period of approximately 3,000 years. The continuity and oneness found in these Scriptures is absolutely astounding. This is truly one of the great miracles of God. The Apostle Paul described this revelation when he wrote: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1). So, in segments of time God revealed the Truth through men He selected, men that were led by the Holy Spirit. Paul adds that God: “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:2). As a result of the appearance of Jesus Christ on this earth, an entire new dimension was added to this revelation. When Paul said the Church was the pillar and ground of the Truth, he was referring to the preserved, believed, and practiced revelation contained in both the Old and New Testaments. These beliefs and practices were not conjured up in the minds of men, nor were they shrewdly contrived. The Apostle Peter wrote: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16).
Understanding Given by Revelation
The revelation and preservation of the inspired Scriptures is one consideration in the matter of Truth, but what needs to be realized is that even the understanding of these Scriptures requires divine revelation. Jesus made this evident when He said: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him . . .” (John 6:44). He repeated this in verse 65: ” . . . Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” What was he saying? The answer is given in verse 45: “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” How does the Father teach anyone? The answer: by means of the Holy Spirit. He calls disciples to a knowledge of the Truth and opens up their hearts and minds to understand the Scriptures! This is the only way the Bible can truly be understood. The fact is: The only way one can have a spiritual relationship with God is if one is called of God. Jesus said so. Notice what He plainly told His disciples: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain . . .” (John 15:16).
Jesus promised to lead His disciples into all Truth. “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 15:26). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13). When Peter told the Jews that upon repentance and baptism they would receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), he was repeating this same promise, that they would be given an understanding of the Scriptures-the Truth. Notice how Jesus opened the understanding of His Apostles shortly after His resurrection. He appeared to them at Jerusalem and showed them where the spikes had been driven through His hands and feet. Then He said: ” . . . These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45). The fact is: It took a miracle from God before the Apostles could understand the Bible even though they had been with Jesus for three-and- one-half years.
Much earlier Jesus had told His disciples: ” . . . I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17). At the time Jesus made this statement, the Holy Spirit had been with His disciples, but not in them. This promise was not fulfilled on a large scale until after the Day of Pentecost. This was when the Holy Spirit was given to the Church in general (Acts 2:1-4). Following the Day of Pentecost, all those who repented and were baptized received the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32).
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17). It does not lead Christians into error. If the Church of God did not have the Truth until 1974 when scholars were relied upon to change Church doctrine, then the Holy Spirit could not have led the Church previously. Yet, some believe that it took the Holy Spirit 40 years to reveal the truth about the correct day for Pentecost, and that divorce and remarriage were acceptable in the sight of God. Is God derelict? Does it take Him 40 years to lead His people into Truth? Not according to the Bible. Thousands of devoted Church of God members died in the past without knowing the truth about the “new” doctrines that were accepted in the early 1970s. Did they die in sin and ignorance? If so, can they be in God’s Kingdom? If one believes that only after 1974 can Church of God members hope to be saved, then many hundreds or thousands died without saving knowledge. If this is true, God was certainly lax in making the Truth known. Yet, for more than 40 years the basis of coming to the knowledge of the Truth was divine revelation, not scholarship. To be bonafide, any additional revelation that comes after the original revelation will not be contradictary. Jesus said the Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35).
The Apostle Paul said he received the mystery of God’s Truth by means of revelation. He stated that “. . . by revelation he made known unto me the mystery ; (as I wrote afore in few words.” He went on to say: “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (vv. 3-5). So, it is plain to see that the recorded Scriptures were given by revelation, as well as the understanding of these Scriptures. Paul explains: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit . . . ” (1 Cor. 2:9-10). The fact is: If the Church of God did not have the Truth before 1974, what confidence can we have that the Church has it now? At the time the changes were made, doctrinal committee members admitted they thought we could never really know the Truth because it continually changes!
Understanding Given Only to the Called
Considering the vast numbers of people who now live upon the Earth, there are few today who really understand the Truth. Why? There are few, by comparison, being called. The fact is: This time period is not the only day of salvation. It is the time of salvation for the first fruits of God. It is a day, but not the only day of salvation. There are two more periods of time when all men will be given the opportunity for salvation. For a complete explanation refer to our article on the Holy Days found on our Website.
Even in His day Jesus did not make the Truth available to all of mankind. This is why He spoke to the masses in parables.
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. (Matt. 13:10-16)
On another occasion He said: “. . . I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matt. 11:25). Yes, indeed, the Truth was hidden from the educated scholars even in Jesus’ day, but was revealed to the disciples-the babes in Christ. The Apostle Paul stated: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Cor. 1:26). Let us be reminded that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. Christians have not been called to error. Paul explained to the Thessalonians that they had received the Word of God through the gospel. He wrote: “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13-14). Today, in the same way, the true gospel message is what led us into the Truth. Our faith must rest on the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what Paul told the Corinthians: “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5).
Human Wisdom Insufficient
How does God view the wise of this world, those who rely on human reason and rationalization for Truth?
For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Cor. 1:19-21)
The Holy Spirit is the means by which the knowledge of God’s Truth comes. The basis of faith is the revelation that God originally gave us, not “new truth” that is contrary to that revelation. The doctrinal changes that were made in 1974 were a rejection of divine revelation. The Truth did not come to us because we were scholars. On the contrary, it came because God called us (Acts 2:38-39). The natural man-one not called-simply cannot grasp the Truth. He has no interest in it. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). By comparison, God said through the Prophet Jeremiah that people are stupid. “Every man is [stupid] in his knowledge . . . ” (Jer. 10:14). This is not to say that scholars are not highly skilled in the technical understanding of many aspects of the Bible, but their comprehension of God’s plan, as well as the purpose and spiritual requirements for men, is utterly lacking. They do not know why they were born, what salvation is, or how it can be achieved. Obedience to God’s commandments is unpalatable to them. Why? “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). How did we come to understand these vital truths? Was it by scholarship, intellect, or by our being led by the Holy Spirit?
Truth in Our Time
Jesus promised that He would be with His Church until the consummation of the age (Matt. 28:20). This means that the same Truth He gave to His disciples would be given in our time. But what was prophesied to take place with that Truth?
Paul tells us:
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. (2 Thess. 2:1-3)
Notice the time setting for this prophecy. It is near the return of Jesus Christ. The words “falling away” are from the Greek word apostasia, which means “apostasy.” Why would this apostasy occur? Paul gives the answer. It was because the people did not love the Truth, instead preferring the pleasures of the flesh (vv. 10-12). So unpopular would God’s Way of Life become that the vast majority would readily follow those who advocated this view.
What happened can be compared to what the Apostle Peter foretold.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (2 Pet. 2:1-2)
When a Monday Pentecost was rejected because it worked a hardship on the members, and when the truth about divorce and remarriage was rejected because it was too big a burden for many to bear, scholarship was employed to provide the justification. The Truth was cast aside, beginning in 1974, and the slippery slide has continued ever since. God meant the Truth to be obeyed (Acts 5:32, Rom. 2:8, Gal. 3:1; 5:7, Heb 5:9, 1 Pet 4:17). The reader should study these important texts. The Truth that God gave to each of us should not be abandoned. It is much too precious.
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy [Spirit], And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Heb. 6:4-6)