LCN Article
Called to Endure

May / June 2004

Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)

We completed an outstanding General Ministerial Conference in March 2004! It was the largest we have had in two years, and the warmth, unity and love of the brethren for each other and for the Work was truly inspiring. A large number of ministers and wives commented to me personally—and I have heard from many others indirectly—that it was “the best conference they have ever attended either in this Church or in our former association.”

We do indeed have a dedicated team of ministers, an excellent Headquarters facility and staff and thousands of you wonderful brethren whom I know are also deeply committed to following the full Truth and doing God’s Work in these last days. I strongly feel that we are now in place and “positioned” to do an effective Work before it is too late. If we all “catch the vision” and put our hearts to the very purpose for which God has called us now, we will be blessed forever. Remember how Herbert W. Armstrong said that the reason God called you and me now was to prepare us as kings and priests to help Jesus Christ rule this earth in a few years, and to do the Work of witnessing to the world and preparing a people for God before Christ returns. God could have called us later. We would experience far fewer trials and tests if God called us during the Millennium or the Great White Throne Judgment. But, if we are willing to go through the trials, tests and persecutions—and persevere to the end—we will have an awesome reward in the Kingdom of God!

It is vital, dear brethren, that we never lose our focus! It is extremely important that we learn to pray fervently every day that God will keep us energized, and that we do not become “weary with well doing”! As each year goes by—and even this year as the summer “vacation” months approach—it will be easy for some of us to let down. But being zealous for the things of God and the Work of God should not be a bothersome “chore.” It should be inspiring, uplifting and energizing, and should give us a reason for living above and beyond anything else on this earth.

The Apostle Paul was inspired to admonish the brethren of his day about the danger of falling away, and treating cheaply the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then, a few verses later, he exhorted them: “But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:9–12).

Notice the admonition not to become “sluggish.” And note how important it is that we imitate those who have faith and patience in their walk with God.

We must never “lose faith,” as did so many of our dear friends and brethren in our former association. So many thousands of them turned aside in the great apostasy that swept over God’s Church after Mr. Armstrong’s death. Now, many of these people—and many outsiders—often sneer at the Work that Christ did through Herbert W. Armstrong. Some “smart alecks” sarcastically comment about Mr. Armstrong’s “prediction addiction.” They seem glad to make fun of the prophecies that the living God gave through him for so many years.

Such comments, and other scurrilous attacks against God’s Work, have confused some of God’s people—and even caused some to become cynical or lose faith. While it is absolutely true that the exact dates for which Mr. Armstrong and many of us “hoped” were sometimes off by a number of years, it is vital to fully remember that the Big Picture of prophecy—which Mr. Armstrong gave us—was right on track! God’s prophecies of national greatness for the American and British-descended peoples beginning in Genesis 12, the specific statements about us being given the “gates of our enemies” and so many other specific prophecies are vital to remember, understand and appreciate.

For, now, those national blessings are indeed being taken away. One by one, the great “sea gates” God gave us are being taken away. Of all the major sea gates, only the Strait of Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands are still in the hands of the House of Israel. The Argentineans are still crying out for the return of the Falklands, and Spain is constantly trying to take over the Rock of Gibraltar! It may not be too many more years before all of these gates have slipped from the control of the peoples of Israel!

The unique understanding Christ gave Mr. Armstrong—of the rise of the Beast Power in Europe with the “woman” riding the Beast (Revelation 17:3)—is an understanding that very few, if any, other groups share, unless they were taught this by Mr. Armstrong. Yet all these events he explained over the years are now happening! As Mr. Armstrong predicted, the “Russian boot” was indeed removed from the communist-controlled nations of Eastern Europe, so the Eastern “leg” of the Beast (described in Daniel 2) is now able to rise. The events of 1989–1990 shocked even most top news analysts, who had no idea that such a collapse of Soviet control over Eastern Europe could or would occur. But God’s Apostle did understand and predict those events years in advance, before he died.

And now, as our British-descended and American peoples increasingly turn away from the true God and “despise” His statutes and laws, the prophecies of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 are truly beginning to occur right before our eyes! Our national “pride” and “power” are being broken even as I write! So the scoffers and cynics will not have too many more years to sneer and laugh at the specific prophecies, given in God’s Word, affecting the major nations of this earth!

Dear brethren, as these events unfold it will be exciting to those of us who understand. It will be encouraging, and it should build our faith. But it will not be “fun stuff.” Rather, it will be a long and slow process of national humiliation—lasting perhaps some five to 25 years before the Great Tribulation begins. As these events unfold, it will hurt us to see many of our unconverted friends and relatives suffer. We and our families, too, may suffer, even if God spares us from directly experiencing the Great Tribulation. Remember, God does allow many events in our lives to take their natural course. Yes, He is especially merciful to His own people, but we have never been spared from the normal process of growing old and dying. We may see more and more of our brethren and other loved ones die.

It may be helpful for me to point out, again, that all of the Church’s former “experts” on biblical prophecy and chronology agreed on at least one point: that the 6,000 years of man’s human society under Satan’s influence could last 20 to 30 years beyond 2000ad, and still be within God’s timetable.

“Why?” you might ask.

Because, as nearly all chronologists acknowledge, their chronologies are often determined by the “accession years” of the kings of Judah. If the Bible does not give the exact part of the year during which one king succeeded another, the timing of the 6,000 years before God’s millennial Sabbath might vary 20 to 30 years either way over a period of several thousand years. So do not assume that God’s 7,000-year plan is something to forget about or laugh at. Although that is not a “salvational” doctrine of the Church, it does seem to be revealed as God’s plan and purpose—and we will probably yet see that it did work out exactly according to God’s timetable, and according to the 7,000-year plan He has had in mind from the beginning.

So, if another five to 15 more years go by before the Great Tribulation begins, we will need to learn to focus on the Big Picture! We will need to learn to look at world events from God’s perspective, not trying to hold Him to some exact timetable of which we ourselves are not sure. For, as we have seen, the truly major events predicted by this Work—which began through Mr. Armstrong and is being carried on by us—have been and are being fulfilled! As Paul warned the older brethren of his day: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: ‘For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:35–39).

Brethren, we all certainly do “have need of endurance.” As we are encouraged to see that God is intervening as He promised, this should increase our faith. And as Paul said: “The just shall live by faith.” If each of us learns to walk with God every day, if we deeply study His Word and “feed” on Christ and pour out our hearts to Him each day of our lives, we will succeed in “enduring to the end.”

Only through a continuing close contact and “fellowship” with God will we be enabled to “hang in there” until the end. Only through genuine humilitynot seeking our own will, but God’s—can we make it to the end. And remember, brethren—God’s Word tells us that the “overcomers” are to inherit God’s Kingdom. So each of us must determine not merely to “hang in there” but to be a conqueror—as some translators express it—a true overcomer so we can be worthy of the magnificent promises that God offers us.

Truly we are called now to complete the final Work of God’s Church in this age, under the leadership of the living Jesus Christ. This is an honor! We are called now to develop the mind of Christ and the character of God, and so be “fit” to rule under Jesus Christ and assist Him in straightening out this entire earth! We must put this magnificent calling at the very forefront of our minds. As God’s Word tells us: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1–4).

The transcendent glory that God promises each of us will make the trials and tests of this present time seem like nothing, when all is said and done. So be encouraged! Determine to keep on and endure until the end in your walk with God! Our God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Let us make sure that we do not ever leave or forsake Him because we have become “sluggish” or ungrateful, or filled with self-will! As the final years of this Work get underway, may God protect, guide and encourage all of us to continue walking with Him and with Jesus both now and forever.