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WAY OF ESCAPE FOR INFILTRATORS IN GOD’S CHURCH
Prophecies concerning how God will protect people through the soon-coming Great Tribulation deal with 4 groups:
1) Members of God’s Church;
2) Israelite nations of America, British Commonwealth nations and the Jewish state of Israel;
3) Other Israelite nations – France, Switzerland, Ireland, Scandinavian and Benelux countries, and
4) Rest of the World.
We will look at end of the end time prophecies concerning each group from the pages of the Bible and see how people in each group can maximize their chances of coming out alive through the Great Tribulation.
Way of Escape for Members of God’s Church
Let’s now look at prophecies concerning God’s Church in the end time and how its members can escape the Great Tribulation alive. In the very end of the end-time, mainly two eras of God’s Church exist simultaneously: The Philadelphian Era and the Laodicean Era. The Philadelphian era began with the preaching and ministry of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong in 1928 and ended with his death on January 16, 1986. The Laodicean era began with his death. All those who have come into God’s Church since Mr. Armstrong’s death belong to the Laodicean Era.
It is possible that some tiny remnants of the Thyatira and Sardis eras might also exist because Jesus Christ in His messages to the Churches tells these two Churches in addition to Philadelphia and Laodicea to “hold fast what you have till I come” (Revelation 2:25 and 3:3).
The seven Churches mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3 - Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea - which were ancient cities in the Roman Empire along a mail route - represent distinct eras in the history of God’s Church in time sequence. But each Church located in these cities also had its distinct characteristics in terms of spiritual attitudes mentioned by Jesus Christ. These seven attitudes have prevailed to some degree or another in each Church era, but the special characteristics mentioned for each Church era have been predominant in that era. What this means is that in the end of the end time, which is the time we now live in, the Laodicean attitude is the predominant one. Those who came into the Church during the Philadelphian era during Mr. Armstrong’s ministry retain most of the Philadelphian attitude. However, those who became members of God’s Church in the Laodicean era can work diligently to develop a Philadelphian attitude and receive protection in a place of safety throughout the entire three and a half years of the Great Tribulation. How to develop a Philadelphian attitude is not a mystery and will be explained shortly.
Even though the Church is now in the Laodicean era (with a lukewarm attitude), it does not mean that most of those who become members of the Church after Mr. Armstrong’s death will have to go through the Great Tribulation. The good news is that members of God’s Church who go through the tribulation are described as a remnant (Revelation 12:17: “And the dragon [Satan] was wroth with the woman [God’s Church], and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [after those with the Philadelphian attitude had fled to the place of safety], which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”).
Though the Greek word for remnant can also be translated as ‘other’ and ‘rest,’ the sense seems to be that the remnant here is not a majority but a minority. However, the key to remember here is that whether one goes to the place of safety or left in the world to go through the Great Tribulation depends entirely on the attitude of the individual. God has put no limit at all on the number of those who will be taken to the place of safety. Those who diligently maintain a Philadelphian attitude will be taken to the place of safety whereas those who are lukewarm in their attitude will have to prove their loyalty to God’s way of life by going through the Great Tribulation and being martyred for it.
Members of God’s Church fall into 3 categories; a) Tares or infiltrators in God’s Church; b) Members with a Philadelphian attitude, and c) Members with a Laodicean or lukewarm attitude. Let’s look at the way of escape for each of these categories of members.
Way of Escape for Tares or Infiltrators in God’s Church
Warning to infiltrators in God’s Church is contained in the parable of the tares.
Matthew 13:24-30 (NKJV) states: “Another parable He (Jesus Christ) put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat in my barn.”
Then in verses 36-43 Jesus explains the meaning of the parable of the tares: "...And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." He answered and said to them: "He who sows the seed is the Son of Man (that is, Jesus Christ Himself). The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one [Satan]. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
This parable makes it quite plain that those who join God's true Church, but have been planted by Satan will end up in the Lake of Fire that will burn up all the wicked. They will lose their salvation and chance for eternal life in the kingdom of God.
These infiltrators are influenced by Satan and are engaged in leading God's true people astray. Their purpose is to deprive genuine members of God's Church of their opportunity for eternal life. Satan uses them to try every possible means to lead the Church collectively as well as individual members astray. For infiltrators to be highly effective, they have to be very well versed in the doctrines of the Church and God's way of life. So they understand God's way of life very well. They know it is good for those who practice it and order their lives by it. But they use Satan's cunning and craftiness to try to deceive the true members into believing that some doctrine is in error and needs modification, or some way of life does not work, or they can compromise with it based on their circumstances. Any compromise with or violation of God’s laws and way of life is sin. The infiltrators try to cause divisions in the Church, or rebellion against authority. All these are contrary to God's way of life. Some genuine members are actually deceived by them, leave the Church and will lose their eternal life.
But God holds people accountable who know His way of life, and reject it. The infiltrators themselves know God's way of life very well, but deliberately reject it. They may reject it because they lack the faith that it works, or are deceived by Satan into believing that the way of cunning craftiness will get them ahead, or because they are thrilled at the prospect of depriving others of eternal life, and must craftily violate God’s laws to lead others astray.
Satan may also have convinced those of German origin among them of another way of life and salvation for them. All Germans perhaps believe Satan’s lie which the Gnostics believed. One such lying tale can be found in a book titled “The Gospel of Judas”, edited by Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer and Gregor Wurst with Commentary by Bart Ehrman.
Ehrman makes this statement on pages 84-85: “Traditional Christianity has taught, of course, that our world is the good creation of the one true God. But this was not the view of the Gnostics. According to a wide range of Gnostic groups, the god who created this world is not the only god and in fact is not even the most powerful or all-knowing god. He is a much lesser, inferior, and often ignorant deity. How can anyone look at this world and call it good? Gnostics saw the disasters around them – the earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, famines, droughts, epidemics, misery, suffering – and they declared that the world is not good…
“Some Gnostic thinkers explained this evil, material world by expounding complicated myths of creation. According to these myths, the ultimate divine being is completely removed from this world, in that he is absolutely spirit – with no material aspects or qualities. This divine being generated lots of offspring known as aeons who, like him, were spiritual entities. Originally this divine realm, inhabited by God and his aeons, was all that existed. But a cosmic catastrophe occurred in which one of these aeons somehow fell from the divine realm, leading to the creation of other divine beings who therefore came into existence outside of the divine sphere. These lesser divine beings created our material world. They made the world as a place of entrapment for sparks of divinity that they had captured, to be placed within human bodies. Some humans, in other words, have an element of the divine within them, at their core. These people don’t have mortal souls, but immortal souls, temporarily imprisoned in this capricious and miserable realm of matter. And those souls need to escape, to return to the divine realm whence they came.
“The myths narrated by the various Gnostic groups differed widely from one another in many of their details…But their overriding point is clear: This world is not the creation of the one true God. The god who made this world – the God of the Old Testament – is a secondary, inferior deity. He is not the God above all who is to be worshipped. Rather, he is to be avoided, by learning the truth about the ultimate divine realm, this evil material world, our entrapment here, and how we can escape.
“I should stress that not everyone has the means to escape. That is because not everyone has a spark of the divine within them: only some of us do. The other people are the creations of the inferior god of this world. They, like other creatures here (dogs, turtles, mosquitoes, and so on), will die and that will be the end of their story. But some of us are trapped divinities. And we need to learn how to return to our heavenly home.”
Most likely the German infiltrators who have infiltrated the Church as tares believe this lie, which all Germans seem to believe. They believe that they only are divine (or ‘gods’) and the rest of humanity is no better than animals or insects. Whatever the motivation of any kind of tares for violating God’s laws, from the parable of the tares it seems clear that God holds them accountable for knowing His truth. They will lose their chance for salvation for violating God’s laws. Because they understand God’s way very well, have been baptized into God’s Church, they are receiving their chance for salvation right now. Every human being will receive only one chance for salvation. The tares are receiving their one and only chance at this time. When humanity at large, which has not known God's way of life is given its chance for salvation by being resurrected to physical life in the second resurrection, these infiltrators will likely not be resurrected. They will already have had their chance by learning about God's way of life, but rejecting it under Satan's influence.
Jesus further warned those who would cause one of those who believe in Him to sin or stumble. The warning was recorded by 3 of the 4 gospel writers. If a warning is written 3 times in scripture, it constitutes the strongest warning.
Matthew 18:6: "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Mark 9:42: "And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea."
Luke 17:1-2: "Then He said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones."
From these warnings it is quite clear that God does not take it lightly when some infiltrate God's Church in order to cause true members to stumble or sin. The parable of the tares and these scriptures make it plain that the infiltrators who try to deprive members of God's true Church of their chance for salvation and eternal life by leading them to sin or stumble, will in fact lose their own salvation and eternal life. The parable shows that the tares are harvested at the same time as the wheat. Genuine members of God’s Church are being harvested for God’s kingdom all the time. So the tares are being harvested at all those same times, but to be burned in the furnace or Lake of Fire in the third resurrection. These are the incorrigibly wicked who will not be in the first or second resurrection, but in the third resurrection (Revelation 20:14-15) to be burned up when the earth is set on fire to cleanse it.
This is fitting justice. Those who try to deprive others of their chance for eternal life deserve to lose their eternal life as well. This is in keeping with God’s perfect standard of justice as stated by Obadiah the prophet in verse 15: “For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee; thy reward shall return upon thine own head.”
Condemning their Children
Many infiltrators have been in God's Church probably for decades. They have taught and raised their children in God's way of life. But when the children grew out of their teens, they were probably told the truth that they had infiltrated the Church on Satan’s guidance in order to destroy it from the inside. Many of the children too then rejected God's way of life under parents’ influence and joined in activities to destroy God's Church. Parents use this tactic because they want to keep their activities secret. If they tell their children the truth when they are young, the children may blurt it out in the company of true members thus exposing them. In order to avoid this potential problem, they raise their children in God's way, but tell them the truth only when they are out of their teens and are mature enough to be able to keep a secret. But in doing so, not only have they deprived themselves of a chance for salvation and eternal life, they have also deprived their children of a chance for eternal life. Their children also knew God's truth but rejected it. They too will be held accountable for their knowledge.
However, some children of infiltrators who were brought up in God's way of life in His Church must have made their own decisions, when their parents told them the truth. They probably rejected their parents' way of life and have continued in God's way of life. They chose to believe in the incredible promises of God of eternal life in His everlasting Kingdom and rulership of the entire earth. They chose not to lose their chance for salvation. If they have endured to the end, or will endure to the end if they are currently in the Church, they will be sons of God in His everlasting kingdom.
The infiltrators and their adult children who learnt about God's way of life, but chose to reject it, will not be resurrected like the rest of the world when it gets its first chance for salvation. When they wake up in the resurrection of the wicked to be burnt alive in the lake of fire, they may complain to God that they really did not have a chance at salvation. But as evidence God will likely give them the examples of those children who chose to reject their parents' way of life of infiltrating the true Church in order to destroy it, and continued to follow God's way of life and attained eternal life.
This scenario has probably been playing out throughout the history of God’s Church since its founding by Jesus Christ in June of 31 A.D. when the apostles first received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. Satan has planted tares or infiltrators in all eras of God’s Church. Probably in all eras some children have not followed their parents’ ways and accepted God’s way of life instead.
Deeper Meaning in the Parable of Tares
The parable of the tares has much deeper meaning, and the nature of the tare weed explains God’s response to the actions of tares. The web site www.keyway.ca explains the tare weed this way:
“In Bible History, tares generally refers to the bearded darnel, a species of noxious grass (lolium temulentum) that, until it matured, was very similar in appearance to the wheat that it commonly infested. The difficulty in controlling it was that, while small enough to be weeded, it could not easily be discerned from the wheat, hence much wheat would be unintentionally pulled up in the process, whereas by the time it became recognizable, it could not be pulled up without pulling up the wheat as well because of their by-then closely-growing root systems. The only economical response was to wait and then separate the wheat from the tares as both were harvested.”
Infiltrators in God’s Church respond exactly like tares in a wheat field. When they join the Church, and grow in it spiritually, they are indistinguishable from genuine members. They build friendships with genuine members and their lives become intertwined. Then they begin to question some beliefs and begin to raise doubts in the minds of genuine members about some aspects of God’s way of life in order to lead them astray. They keep sowing further doubts over time. The infiltrators’ leaders engage in leading the whole Church astray, or at least cause divisions, and separate from the Church, taking some members with them. Even to this day, when leaders in God’s Church talk to the leaders of descendants of the members who were in the Church about similarity of their beliefs with God’s Church, they will always single out some belief or the other and say we don’t agree with that.
The genuine members who allow themselves to be deceived become disqualified from receiving eternal life. If God responded by removing the tares from the Church, because of the friendships they have built in the Church, they would surely take some members out of the Church with them. In order to prevent that from happening, as much as possible, God lets the infiltrators stay in the Church with genuine members, i.e. lets the tares grow with the wheat. In the process, genuine members also gain experience in dealing with Satan’s devices. They learn how to avoid being deceived if another being like Satan should ever arise in God’s kingdom in the future, rebel against God’s rule, and try to lead others astray like Satan led one-third of all angels astray.
In the end, after all true members of God’s Church have been resurrected as God’s immortal sons, the tares will all be burned up in the Lake of Fire and destroyed forever. What a horrendous tragedy that will be! Current infiltrators and future infiltrators in God's true Church should take warning now. Once a person learns God's way of life, he is held accountable for the knowledge. Such a person should repent while he still has time left. Children of infiltrators don’t have to follow their parents into the Lake of Fire. They can repent and receive eternal life. God has warned them amply. They have read the parable of the tares many times over. Responsibility for their choices and actions is entirely theirs. God’s Church has done its job in warning them.
The tares should not deceive themselves with faulty reasoning. They work so hard to deprive members of God’s Church of eternal life by deceiving them. They believe that genuine members will lose their eternal life if they can lead them astray. If the tares believe that because the Bible says so, then they ought to believe the Bible when it says that they themselves will lose their eternal life as well.
There are many so-called Sabbatarian churches which are remnants of the Sardis era of God’s Church that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong came into contact with. There were many in leadership positions in that era of the Church who were tares. They destroyed that era of the Church. If any genuine members among them still love God and the truth, they should come out of those Churches and join God’s true Church to qualify for the free gift of salvation. The synagogue of Satan was also very active in the Philadelphia era of God’s Church. Many of these tares were leaders in the Church and some were at headquarters. They now constitute most of the top leadership in the Worldwide Church of God. This is their last chance to repent of their wickedness. Perhaps God will be merciful to them and forgive them. But once the end-time events in the form of world wars begin, they may not have any more chance to repent.
Why God Allows His Church to be Infiltrated
An important question to ask is: “Why does God allow His Church to be infiltrated by Satan’s agents? Why does He not expose them quickly so that they can be immediately put out of the Church before they do any harm to genuine members by deceiving some of them in order to deprive them of eternal life?”
The answer lies in the lessons God learnt during Satan’s rebellion against His rule. God saw all the tactics and arguments Satan used to deceive and convince one-third of all the angels under his authority on earth to join him in rebellion against Him. What better way to test members in His Church to prove that they will always remain loyal to His government for eternity under all circumstances, than to let Satan try to deceive them through his human agents planted in the Church? What better way to test the firstfruits of humanity with all the tricks that Satan used against angels and that he and the demons have been able to devise since then to deceive members of God’s Church?
God can test members to see if they will rely on him totally to deliver them from deception at the hands of Satan and his agents. Members must always be praying to God to deliver them out of the hands of Satan and his human agents by enabling them to see through their deceptions. To impress upon His people how important this is, Jesus Christ in His example on how His disciples should pray said in the so-called Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:13, “13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…” [meaning Satan]. The model prayer is also repeated in Luke 11:4, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."
It is Satan’s nature to oppose God in every project. In order to destroy the Church and members within it he uses his human agents to infiltrate the Church. Members of God’s Church who successfully resist all tests and trials, all the cunning craftiness that Satan can use against them, and learn how to resist his temptations and attempts at deception to turn away from God, will have proved themselves capable of resisting all such temptations for eternity. God will be pleased to grant eternal life to such overcomers and make them His sons in His own family. He can rely on them to never rebel against His rule like Satan and the demons did and brought pain and suffering in the universe for the first time. That is why God allows infiltrators to enter His Church. It is to provide training for future sons and rulers in His everlasting kingdom in avoiding deception.
The Philadelphian era has probably suffered the worst attempts at deception by Satan’s agents. They will have dealt with all the tests that Satan and the demons could devise in their cunning craftiness, and that he has recycled from all his past dealings with God’s true Church.
Way of Escape for Tares
For the tares this warning is another chance to repent of their wickedness, and turn to living God’s way of life wholeheartedly. God will require wholehearted repentance from them, as with any sinner. Even a remote desire to hang on to some of Satan’s way would not be wholehearted repentance.
Satan and his human agents tightly control all those who serve him. He will not let the tares go away from his control. His agents will threaten or actually murder those who try to slip away. Just like God, Satan too wants 100% of an individual in his camp. If the tares think they can outwardly show to Satan that they are in his camp, but expect that the true saints should understand the danger they would be in if they were to indicate a clean break with Satan’s camp, then spiritually they are in quicksand. You cannot sit on the fence all your life and expect God to grant you eternal life. The only way to demonstrate wholehearted repentance is to openly walk away completely from Satan’s camp, and have nothing to do with that way. It is guaranteed to make Satan and his human agents your enemies. It may even require you to sacrifice your life to demonstrate your commitment to God’s way of life. But that is the only way to demonstrate that you have completely repented of the previous evil of deceiving true members in order to deprive them of eternal life. God requires nothing less. After all, God wants to be able to rely on you for eternity that you will never forsake His way, or compromise with it, or rebel against Him and His rule. Your very eternal life is at stake. This is your only chance.
Tares will without doubt be persecuted by Satan if they try to leave his camp. God will likely allow them to go through these tests and trials to give them an opportunity to demonstrate their genuine repentance and complete faith and trust in Him. God may even allow some of them to be martyred. In the case of others, after they have demonstrated their faith in God, He could very well intervene on their behalf and even take them to the place of safety for protection during the entire three and a half years of the Great Tribulation, or just during the last one year of the Great Tribulation. That determination will ultimately be made by Jesus Christ for God the Father has given all judgment to the Son (John 5:22 [NKJV]: “22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.”)Just as other members have to put their faith and trust in God to take them to the place of safety, tares will also have to trust God for His decision whether to take them to the place of safety, or like the Laodiceans to allow them to go through the Tribulation to demonstrate their total repentance and commitment to God’s way of life, before He can grant them eternal life.
The fulfillment of end-time prophecies is at hand. A world war could begin at any time. There is not much time left for the tares to make their choice to repent. And the choices they face are very clear. Either they obey God 100% and follow His way, or with any other half-hearted measures they will lose their chance for salvation and eternal life. They cannot play games with God, and cannot deceive Him. God hopes that they will make the wise choice to wholeheartedly repent.
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