That Day is at Hand

Dear Brethren,

How near are we to the time of the end?  The prophet Daniel was told to, "Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end."  (Daniel 12:9)  Most people will not recognize when the Day of the Lord is at hand, but some will.  "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."  (Daniel 12:10)

John Jewell explains how England and the United States have rejected God, and are living contrary to the way of God.  As a result, perilous times are coming upon our nations (2 Timothy  3:1-7).  Let me give a little history of how John Jewell and I [Warren Zehrung] came to work together in proclaiming the Gospel warning message to the world.  Our countries must be warned of their soon coming destruction.  "Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob [England and the United States], and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate."  (Jeremiah 10:25)  "Behold, the Day of the Lord comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it."  (Isaiah 13:9)

John and I both had our beginnings in the Radio Church of God, which later became the Worldwide Church of God.  John first heard Herbert W. Armstrong in the 1950's via Radio Luxemburg while cruising in the Indian Ocean on the British Royal Naval anti-submarine frigate, the HMS Ulysses.  I heard Herbert W. Armstrong in 1964 over radio station WOAI San Antonio, TX, while driving through Mississippi very early one Monday morning, when the dark sky was lit only by the shimmering strobes of a billion majestic stars.  He was quoting the psalm of David where it says, "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?"  (Psalms 8:3-4)

While serving in the central Pacific Ocean near Christmas Island on September 23, 1958, John Jewell witnessed first-hand, the devastating last atmospheric nuclear test of Britain's Hydrogen-bomb detonations.  That H-bomb, utilizing fusion boosted tritium gas, resulted in Britain becoming a world thermonuclear power.  Destructive power that dreadful, announced the last days of the world as we know it.  "Except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened the days."  (Mark 13:20)

Ambassador College had three branches.  John graduated from Bricket Wood in the county of Hertfordshire, England, and I graduated from Pasadena, CA, after also attending at Big Sandy, TX.  For a time, John ran the printing press at Bricket Wood before becoming a Pastor.

John and I were ordained ministers in the Worldwide Church of God up until Joseph Tkach renounced the Biblical teachings of Jesus Christ, and turned the Church to Protestantism.  The Worldwide Church of God ceased to represent the Truth of God when it accepted the doctrine of the Trinity as its primary test of orthodoxy, and declared that the Ten Commandments were not to be obeyed.  I was fired and disfellowshipped for preaching Hebrews 4:9:  "There remains therefore a keeping of the Sabbath for the people of God" - one of the Ten Commandments!

In May of 1995, John and I, independently, traveled to Indianapolis, IN to participate in an effort to put the Church of God back on track.  The name chosen for that new organization was the, "United Church of God, an International Association."  I personally approached Richard Pinelli (Ministerial Services operational manager), about the doctrinal beliefs of United at that conference – but it had been predetermined that doctrine would not be discussed until a later date, and that organization was of primary importance. (For the record, doctrine and obedience to God must always come first.)

Many of the approximately 130 ministers attending that organizational conference were still on the Worldwide Church of God payroll – and thus, tacitly approving of the false doctrines, like the Trinity, and doing away with the Ten Commandments.  Many ministers, in fact, had been disfellowshipping those members who did not support the Tkach's.  Victor Kubic was appointed to be the head of Ministerial Services at United – the same job he was doing in the Worldwide Church of God.  Victor Kubik founded LifeNets International, Inc., a humanitarian aid organization that provides life-sustaining food and medicine, education, vocational training and other forms of support for United members, Sabbatarians and others around the world.

At that same conference, Victor Kubic asked me the whereabouts of some of the ministers who were not in attendance at that formational conference.  (While in Worldwide, Victor had personally fired me in February 1995, turning over two congregations to an apostate minister, who openly professed that the Sabbath had been done away with, and who had a refrigerator full of shrimp and pork chops).  I answered Victor that one of the reasons that some of the ministers stayed away from the Indianapolis conference, was because some of the ministers and hand picked organizers of United had accepted the false Trinity doctrine.  Some ministers, like David Hulme who was chosen to be the first President of UCG-aia, had personally adopted the trinity doctrine and were actively preaching in favor of the trinity.

I told Victor, "If you expect all those men to be on-board, the first thing that you will have to do is to repudiate the false Trinity doctrine."  Victor responded to me, "We are not going to repudiate anything – we are going forward from here."  And with that, Victor Kubic literally swept me and my wife aside and walked off.  Most of the men in United were the very last to leave Worldwide.  They left only after most of the faithful brethren had previously left.  (Wait for me – I'm your leader!)  They stayed in Worldwide after the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments were done away with.  Some of United's ministers disfellowshipped brethren for continuing to keep the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments.

Five years later in 2000, when I was on the Council of Elders of the Church of God a Christian Fellowship,  I was asked by Larry Salyer to be on a "Task Force" with George Meeker (coordinator) and Norbert Link to work with our counterparts, United's Roy Holladay (coordinator), Clyde Kilough, and Dennis Luker for the purpose of bringing our groups together.  From the days of the Global Church of God, Larry Salyer had been working behind the scenes to have us join with United CoG, aia.  Later on, speaking before the Council of Elders of the Church of God a Christian Fellowship, Larry said, "We are robbing United of tithes."  I did not agree with his assessment.  Had Larry supported our Task Force's findings, we could have helped United strive for higher standards, rather than settling for less.

I campaigned for individual ministers in United to make amends, and to reconcile with those members whom they had disfellowshipped for political reasons during the apostasy – some five and six years previously.  On March 12th, 2001, the Ministerial Council of Elders of the Church of God a Christian Fellowship and the United Church of God, an International Association met together in executive session at a cumulative conference in Cincinnati, OH.  I was asked to make the opening comments to the combined councils.  I asked President Les McCullough, specifically, and the others generally, why the United CoG, aia was still reluctant, after 5 years, to invite those members who had been disfellowshipped from WCG back to church.  Many of the men on United's Council of Elders had disfellowshipped brethren, not for any sin or heresy, but for failing to go along with the Tkach's false doctrine.

Les McCullough answered that obviously those people knew where United was and could make their way back, if they had a mind to.  I felt that the response was entirely inappropriate for a minister of Jesus Christ, and a servant of the brethren.  There was absolutely no humility or remorse for the terrible infractions some of the ministers were guilty of.  Gary Antion was the first of two men sitting on United's Council of Elders who justified their past actions by replying that it would have been "unethical" to go against Joseph Tkach because the ministry worked for him, and their salaries were paid by him.  Jesus taught love for the brethren, and He made Himself our servant.  That example is not understood nor put into practice by many ministers.  By definition, a minister is the servant of the brethren.

For the record, let me clarify that the proper understanding is that True ministers are ministers and servants of Jesus Christ.  They work for Jesus Christ, and He alone is the head of the Church.  I was told that our salaries would double if we went with United.  All but three of Christian Fellowship's ministers went with United.  Edwin Pope, Norbert Link and myself began the Church of the Eternal God.

During my discourse at that Council of Elders conference in Cincinnati, OH, I was explaining that the abuse of the brethren was a sin and that sin separates us from God.  Leon Walker, chairman of Doctrinal Committees of both Worldwide and United, asked where I [Warren Zehrung] came up with the notion that, "sin separates us from God?"  I was sitting next to John Jewell at that conference – he was openly sympathetic to my position – John quickly turned to Isaiah 59:2:  "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear."   When the ministry does not know the foundational truth, that sin separates us from God, they cannot understand the reconciliation of the Church to God the Father brought about by Jesus Christ at Passover, nor the reconciliation of the world that will take place when the Day of Atonement is fully come  (Acts 2:1).

John Jewell and I have been working together ever since that time.  We work closely together, using each others materials, recordings, and programs, etc.  John has which broadcasts continuously on the internet, as well as satellite and land based stations.  Let me add that we count many brethren in United, Living, etc., as brothers and sisters in Christ and consider them personal friends.  We only ask the brethren to be cautious because ministers in those various organizations, some of them, after being baptized for over 40 years, do not know what they believe.  They decided early-on at United that every single doctrine had to be put on the table for discussion – why hadn't they proved the Truth for themselves before that time???

Are they ready to defend the brethren from future threats and apostasy?  That is the more important question.  The Bible predicts much more apostasy to come.  Will you be able to depend on their kind of ministerial leadership in the future?  To maintain, as they do, that it would have been " unethical" to go against Joseph Tkach because he was their employer, is deplorable, as far as I am concerned.  That demonstrates clearly that they were only hirelings – and not defenders of the faith, as they should have been. That is exactly like Hitler's war criminals who used the defense, "I was only following orders."  It would be much more hopeful and helpful if those ministers who quietly went along with Joseph Tkach's false doctrine without resistance, would repent and admit that they were led astray – and did not protect the flock in their greatest time of need.  To those ministers – the brethren are expendable.  That is a gross and unGodly mistake!  " The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and cares not for the sheep." (John 10:13)  Those ministers forgot the parable about being concerned for the one lamb out of ninety-nine that needs to be cared for.

We teach a message of unity of the brethren by the Spirit of God, in one Church – one Body of Christ, and that all who are led by His Holy Spirit are in that one Body.  We believe that we are in the last days – time is short.  Unfortunately, in these Laodicean times, ministerial leadership with character is greatly lacking.  We are told to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then, our personal needs will be added to us – then, we are told not to make our salary and retirement program a high priority – take therefore no thought for the morrow: (Matthew 6:33-34).  We believe one of the highest priorities is to become holy as God is Holy.

Whenever we know of serious wrong-doing in the ministry – we are not allowed to bury our heads in the sand.  When there is wrong doing – the ministers are obligated to correct the problem.  If not, Leviticus 5:1 says that God holds those ministers as guilty as those doing the wrong.  Too many ministers in United say, "It is not happening in my area – and therefore, it is not my responsibility – I do not have to get involved."  According to God's word, when they know about the problem – they are involved!  For example, responsible ministers have no option but to deal with child molesters, people living in adultery, divorce and remarriage problems, lying spirits, etc.  They are wrong to look the other way.  "For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered."  (Jeremiah 10:21)

Ministers are supposed to be serving God first.  Jesus makes it plain that when the brethren are served, He is served.  "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  (Matthew 25:40)  Jesus is serious about that!  He takes it personally when His little ones are being mistreated.

Whenever ministers put their corporate organization ahead of serving the brethren – they are putting God last.  That is idolatry.  No one worries about idolatry today – but that is what it is.  I know that they reason around that – but it is true.  They really believe that if they uphold the corporate organization, first and foremost, it will benefit them and the majority of the brethren in the long run.  That is a lack of faith!

We are to do what God says.  Corporate organizations are okay, but they never come before God's will.  But you cannot put the brethren last and the corporate organization first.  That is plain and simply wrong.  If that is what God wanted, the Worldwide Church of God would still be standing.  God does not want compromise.  It is time to be zealous and live what we believe, and not be lukewarm!  And by the same token, a number of "Head Ministers" need to realize that true spiritual leadership is not about who's running things.  The "Who's in charge" attitude has been running amok.  Again, Jesus said, "The son of God came not to be served but to serve - If you desire to be great [in the Kingdom of God], be the servant."  (Matthew 20:26-28)

The return of Jesus Christ is at hand, and we are warned not to become complacent.  Today, there is much discussion about the world in which we live, and whether or not mankind will, or can, survive.  "As Jesus sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"  (Matthew 24:3)

Jesus said, "Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."  (Matthew 24:22)  "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come...  Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man comes."  (Matthew 24:42, 44)

Indeed, we are about to face the end of the world.  "At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation... But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."   (Daniel 12:1, 4)

We live today in perilous times.   "The leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed."  (Isaiah 9:16)

The world stands on the brink.  We are facing the storm.  "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men."  (Isaiah 29:13)

Jesus Christ, however, is going to return.  That return of Christ is very near.  We shall see a new world.  "Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"  (1 John 3:17)


Sermon:  "That Day is at Hand"