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Mystery of the Ages (a critical review)

By Kelly Marshall


Chapter Seven - Mystery of the Kingdom of God (Pt. 3 of 3)


On page 305 of the MOA, HWA cleverly redefines the "Throne of God" as the "Headquarters of the Government of the Universe." This method is known as "transferal."

He ascended to the Throne of God, Headquarters of the Government of the Universe.

Here is a subtle transfer of authority from God to an entity called Headquarters. Members unwittingly adopt the belief that "God" and "Headquarters" are one and the same. This is where the "mind meld" occurs. Once the convert adopts this erroneous belief, it is a very powerful tool used against him. To question or challenge Headquarters is equal to questioning or challenging God. God no longer speaks to the hearts of men through Scripture. Instead, Headquarters will now speak to the members and let the will of God be known through a hierarchical system.

In chapter one of the MOA, HWA informed the reader that the word "Trinity" is not found in the Bible. From there, he concludes that the Trinity doesn't exist because the word isn't found in the Bible. If this methodology is true, then HWA has failed to inform his members that the word "Headquarters" is nowhere found in the Bible either, much less the term "Headquarters of the Government of the Universe" which he lavishly parades through this chapter.

Now we will observe how cleverly HWA transfers authority from the "Headquarters of the Government" to the "Headquarters Church" forty pages later. HWA plainly states that this HQ mega church will be located in Jerusalem:

This Headquarters Church, at Christ's own world capital of Jerusalem, then, undoubtedly will be given the administration of the world's new system of education. (p. 349)
Also the indication is that the teaching of spiritual truth—of the true gospel, the spiritual conversion of the world—will be directed, worldwide, from this Headquarters Church, under Elijah and the overall direct supervision of Jesus Christ. (p. 349)

HWA will be unable to provide a single Scripture to prove these and other statements concerning this future Headquarters mega church, nor any proof that it will be under Elijah. He simply states things as if they are fact. Here, he uses the word "undoubtedly" to bolster the reader's confidence in this claim. HWA often quoted, "Where there is no vision the people will perish." He was a master at giving his followers visions of the future of his church:

But the real world evangelism will be administered by this Headquarters Church composed of resurrected immortals, under direct supervision of Jesus Christ.
One thing there will not be in the millennial Headquarters Church is a doctrinal committee of intellectual "scholars" to decide whether Christ's teachings are true doctrines.
There was no such doctrinal committee in the first century Headquarters Church at Jerusalem...God's Church today, as in the first century, receives its teachings from the living Christ, through an apostle, just as in A.D. 31. [emp. mine]
One other tremendous organizational function will be directed from this Headquarters Church—that of direction of all the local churches over the world. (p. 350)

Initially, this vision seems exciting: Being directly under Jesus Christ in helping to convert the world? Wow! Who can resist? But upon closer scrutiny, there are a few things the reader has failed to perceive concerning this Headquarters Church, first and foremost, the lack of scriptural references. The second thing is HWA's demeaning attitude toward sound Christian scholarship. HWA knows that educated men can easily see through his false arguments and challenge these falsehoods. HWA will poison his followers to believe that examining Scriptures and coming to conclusions that negate his teachings will not be allowed in this millennial church. There will be no "doctrinal committees"—only what proceeds from the mouth of HWA—which he assures us comes directly from the living Christ and is patterned after the first century church. Of course, he does not mention Acts 15:6-21 where it clearly describes the historic Jerusalem Council. Contrary to what HWA stated above, the first "doctrinal committee" recorded in Scripture occurred in the first century and in Jerusalem. In Acts 15, we see a committee consisting of Paul, Barnabas, Peter, James, Simeon, Barsabas, Silas, and the elders at Jerusalem to decide whether or not the Gentile converts should be circumcised and keep the law of Moses (the very law HWA taught his followers to keep). What was the result?

And God which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they....Foresomuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying "Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment. (Acts 15:8-11, 25) [emp. mine]

Here, we don't see one man making all the decisions, as HWA wants his readers to believe. Plainly stated, one shall be saved by belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, and there is no commandment given to be circumcised and to keep the Law.

Thirdly, readers will not understand the full implication of this shift in authority—that all doctrinal truth will be given through an apostle, which is none other than HWA. Once in the church, HWA has his followers believing that his doctrines are Christ's doctrines, and he will ensure that they will conclude that challenging his doctrines is equal to challenging Christ Himself. Again, this is done purposefully to cause a dependency on HWA to reveal "truth" to his members.


HWA taught that there would be three resurrections:

There will be three resurrections. The first resurrection takes place at Christ's second coming when all the firstfruits—the elect saints—are born again.
The second resurrection takes place after the Millennium is over. In it all the unsaved dead will be given physical life and their first opportunity to know and understand the gospel. They will have one hundred years to grow in godly character.
The third resurrection takes place when God's plan is complete. All of those wicked who have rejected God's ways and died in their sins will be raised to physical life. They will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive their reward—to suffer final extinction in the Lake of Fire. For them, this is the second death! They will never again be resurrected! (The Ambassador College Correspondence Course, 1965, Lesson 39, p. 13)

Now let's examine each teaching carefully.

The First Resurrection

The 144,000

As stated earlier, members believe that they are the 144,000 that are chosen to rule with Christ at His return. Below, we will see that they must make room for the Jehovah's Witnesses, who also believe that the elite 144,000 comes from their group:

The foundation of God's Messianic Kingdom was laid with the selection of Jesus' apostles (Ephesians 2:19, 20; Rev. 21:14) These were the first of 144,000 who would rule in heaven as associate kings with Jesus Christ. While on earth, these prospective corulers would spearhead a witnessing campaign, in keeping with Jesus' command: "Go...and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit." - (Matt. 28:19) (Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, Watchtower and Bible Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1995, p. 93).
How grand it will be when the knowledge of God fills the earth! There will be an extensive educational program under the direction of the King Jesus Christ and his 144,000 corulers. New "scrolls" will then come into use. Evidently these are God's written instructions that will serve as a basis for educating earth's inhabitants (Rev. 20:12) (Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, Watchtower and Bible Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1995, p. 185).

One can easily conclude that HWA did not get his ideas from God, but again from the Watchtower Society. HWA taught that his followers were the "little flock" mentioned in Luke 12:32. (Jehovah's Witnesses also use this same terminology). Members are told that God began numbering this "little flock" beginning in 1934, when HWA began "the Work." Little do they know that Luke 12:32 is taken completely out of context. Jesus was addressing his small flock of disciples directly (vs. 22), telling them not to worry because the Father would take care of all their needs (v. 29). He was not prophesying that his faithful followers would remain a small flock of believers. In fact, the parable of the mustard seed contradicts this very notion (as do other parables). This mustard seed pictures the kingdom of God beginning with one seed and then spreading out to the whole world. This has been fulfilled, as we shall see in the Scriptures quoted a little further in this section.

HWA knew members would not know enough church history to understand the math. First of all, along with the 144,000, will this also include all of the apostles, and those who were converted during the inception of the early church? According to HWA (comments in brackets mine):

The dead IN Christ at the time of Jesus' Second Coming [the First Resurrection occurs as this time] shall be resurrected to immortal God-life if they shall have died, and those still living who are IN Christ at his coming and led by his Holy Spirit shall be changed instantly to immortal God-life. They shall rule and teach with and under Christ during the thousand years... (p. 352)

Now let's do the math and see if Scripture is correct—that the kingdom of God would start out small and then grow large—or if HWA is right, and that there would only be a "little flock" of true believers throughout history. Beginning with the twelve disciples, Acts 1:15 reveals another 120 believers in their midst. After the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, another 3,000 souls were added (Acts 2:41). In verse 47, Scripture states, "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." How many hundreds or thousands could this have added up to? Another 5,000 who heard the word and believed is recorded in Acts 4:4. Again in Acts 5:14, Scripture states, "And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women..." In Acts 6:1, "Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying..." and in verse 7, "Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith."

Before long, we begin to see Scripture identifying churches by name and recording continued growth:

Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied. (Acts 9:31)
But the word of God grew and multiplied. (Acts 12:24)
And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. (Acts 16:5)

Books of the Bible were named after large churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Philippi, Colosse and Thessalonica. The parable of the mustard seed started with one small seed (Jesus) and has grown steadily since.

In addition to the thousands of believers we see here, we must remember that HWA taught in an earlier chapter that there were seven church eras. How many more thousands of believers could this add up to? HWA taught that there would be 14 executives and "other such teams" of believers that would come up in the First Resurrection. Many of the names he gave were people who were believers before the inception of the church. Along with Daniel and Noah, will this include the 7,000 men that God reserved for Himself who did not bow down to the image of Baal during the time of Elijah? (1 Kings 19:18, Romans 11:4) HWA never says. But HWA does indeed, plainly state that the "dead in Christ" shall rise up along with those who are still alive at His Coming." These faithful "dead" will rise up along with the "living" WCG members (WCG claimed to have 150,000 during their peak in the 1990s. Read how this figure was a myth.) So how many of these "faithful dead" will there be in the First Resurrection?

History records at least as many as 250,000 Jewish Christians alone in the early church and that number may have been close to a million. Conservative estimates of those who were martyred for their faith range from 250,000 to as high as 800,000.6 This number is far from the "little flock" of true believers purported by HWA. So even though HWA made his followers believe there would be 144,000 "Firstfruits" and the 14 Executives of the Topflight Team ruling in the World Tomorrow, he conveniently hid the fact that there are hundreds of thousands (if not a million or more) of true believers recorded in the New Testament that would come up in this First Resurrection. He did not want to acknowledge what the Scriptures taught: that thousands believed on Him and were saved. This is why HWA cleverly covers his bases by only mentioning the 120 believers in Acts 1:15 as the "few who believed," while the other people "believed on Him" but "didn't believe His Message" (p. 356). This way, he could randomly qualify or disqualify any group throughout history as "true believers" to suit his agenda.

HWA also taught that his followers were descended from ancient Israel, thus the erroneous belief that they represented the 144,000:

COMMENT: The "four winds" of course, are symbols, but they are restrained from blowing until the "servants of God" are sealed in their foreheads. First of these to be sealed are the 144,000. They are 12,000 from each of the 12 literal tribes of Israel...(The Ambassador College Correspondence Course, 1973, Lesson 12, p. 9)

In Revelation 7, the 144,000 are sealed from each tribe of Israel—all, that is, except the tribe of Dan. Not to worry—HWA informs us that Joseph gets a double portion.

Among these, now yielding their lives to GOD and to HIS WAYS, will be the much-quoted but little-understood "144,000." There will be 12,000 from America—another 12,000 from British Commonwealth nations—12,000 Jews—12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel except Dan—but Joseph is given a DOUBLE-portion. (1975 in Prophecy, 1956)

This should bring little comfort to church members in Denmark. HWA taught that Denmark is the modern Israelite tribe of Dan. Unfortunately, those faithful members will not be part of the 144,000 according to this scripture, even though they have faithfully tithed and kept the Sabbath and Holy Days. Why didn't HWA point this out? It would have saved many Danish members the trouble (and the money). Notice how he sidesteps the whole issue by diverting attention back to tribe of Joseph. He never addresses what will happen to Dan and how this affects the salvation of members in Denmark. And if a member is of Spanish, Italian, German, Black or Asian descent, they won't be included either since none of them are descended from Ancient Israel (see Hoeh's teachings on the Modern Identity of Israel). There are lots of church members that fall into these racial categories that have never been aware of the full implications, or questioned this teaching, even though they have been obedient and have financially backed the organization.

Now let's look at more contradictions by HWA. In chapter 6 of the MOA, we observed in chapter six HWA declaring that only a "minute few" have been called to salvation. In addition, he plainly stated that the majority of people at the inception of the church "believed on Christ" but "didn't believe Christ's message," therefore canceling them out as true believers. As early as Acts 8, HWA claimed that Simon Magus "turned his pagan religion, under the name of Christianity, into a universal religion." (p. 52) Counterfeit Christianity, he said, was already taking root right at the outset of the early church. Then a thick mist began to obscure the early church:

Already the curtain was rung down on the history of the true Church. You read of it in the book of Acts, but it doesn't go much beyond that. (p. 279)

By A.D. 150, HWA states a false church had emerged. HWA taught that Simon and his followers eventually succeeded and this is why the church was observing Sunday by this time. [Note: Read Did Herbert Armstrong Distort Historical Church Documents? by Kelly Marshall which covers Simon Magus and the Gnostic heresy.] Given these facts, we can easily surmise that HWA did not believe that there were millions of faithful believers from the inception of the early church until A.D. 150, and certainly even less from A.D. 150 on especially since this "counterfeit church" was keeping Sunday. Sunday observance, HWA teaches, is the mark of the beast:

And we know what Satan will do. He will enforce, by military might, the branding of the people of the world with Sunday observance—the "mark of the beast"! (Ambassador Correspondence Course, 1967, Lesson 30, p. 9)

From this, we can easily determine that HWA believed that the majority of Christians, since that time, could not be counted as true Christians because they kept Sunday and had the mark of the beast.7 Therefore the "true believers" have always been a "small flock" throughout history to the present day. Now let's compare this to statements made in his other booklets.

Speaking about Revelation 6:9-11, HWA states:

NOTICE that! Here is the GREAT TRIBULATION! And this fifth seal pictures it as a time of martyrdom of saintsof truly converted, begotten children of GOD!
Notice, verse 9. Those that were slain, in a former and typical Tribulation—as actually millions were slain many centuries ago—and crying out, "HOW LONG, O God, before you shall avenge our blood on the powers that martyred us?"...
NOTE IT. NOTE IT CAREFULLY! These martyrs that were killed, centuries ago, allegorically are asking how long before the second coming of Christ and the end of this age? And HERE'S the tremendous answer! It shall not occur until another Great TRIBULATION—another martyrdom of saints—until their fellow-servants and their Spirit-begotten brethren in the Lord shall be killed, as they were... (The Book of Revelation Unveiled At Last! pp. 26-27, 1972) [bolding mine]

Now we see HWA stating that there were "millions" of saints martyred many centuries ago! This doesn't sound much like a "small flock." It is interesting to note that when HWA wants his followers to feel special, he makes them believe that they are among a handful throughout history that understood and obeyed the "truth." But when he speaks against the traditional Christian church, all of a sudden he can find "millions" of true followers who have been martyred! And speaking of martyrdom, this brings us to the next contradiction.

Even though HWA declared that the Great Multitude would be divinely protected (sealed), he cannot prove it from Scripture.

These winds were held back from blowing these seven trumpets until the sealing of the 144,000 and the great innumerable multitude that came out of the Great Tribulation from all nationalities and peoples. (The Book of Revelation Unveiled At Last! 1972, p. 37-38) [bolding mine]

The beginning of chapter 7 shows the 144,000 being sealed, but not the Great Multitude! In Revelation 7:9, 13-14, there is nothing mentioned here about this group being divinely sealed by God. In addition, what the unsuspecting reader also doesn't know is that HWA cut off the rest of the chapter. It should read:

"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindred, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of the great tribulation and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away tears from their eyes. (Rev. 7: 14-17)

Where is the throne of God? Heaven. Where did Jesus ascend to after His Resurrection? Heaven. Scripture plainly states that the Great Multitude would be found before the throne of God, and the Lamb is in the midst of the throne. This throne is in heaven. Why did HWA ignore this, claiming it to be an "allegory"? The real reason HWA claimed the first part of Chapter 7 is literal (the 144,000 and the Great Multitude) and the rest is an allegory is because the remainder plainly dispels his anti-heaven doctrine. We see this great multitude before the throne of God, serving him day and night. HWA taught that "the dead know nothing" but clearly we see conscious beings serving the Lord in heaven. Revelation 6:9-11 clearly shows that martyrs go straight into the presence of the Lord.

Church members knew next to nothing why this teaching of the 144,000 and the place of safety was emphasized:

When those in power in Pasadena discovered, almost by accident that there was a large residue of people in the local churches who still believed in going to Petra as a place of safety and were waiting for that day, they began to realize the need to capitalize on that market. The leaders were eager to mine this unexpected rich strike. And what better man to mine this vein than Waterhouse. His earlier disgrace in their eyes was forgotten for the moment."...Then gradually as the new time frame of prophecy developed, which centered around 1972, the spin-off doctrine of going to Petra was developed and preached powerfully, especially during the annual fall festivals." (Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, David Robinson, 1980, p. 236)

Money was the real motive behind this. "And through covetousness shall they [false teachers and charlatans] with feigned words make merchandise of you" (2 Peter 2:3). As long as HWA could deny salvation to his followers, indoctrinate them with fear, portray a bloody Holocaust, promise them "elite status" and divine protection, he knew members would readily whip out their checkbooks to secure their way to Petra.


Satan Is Loosed

HWA taught that once the thousand years expires, Satan would be loosed for a little while to once again deceive those who have lived during the Millennium. They will amass a great army and surround Jerusalem. Christ will supernaturally defeat this innumerable army, and cast Satan into the Lake of Fire, where he will be "tormented day and night, for ever and ever." After this comes the Second Resurrection, or Great White Throne Judgment, where (according to HWA) billions who have lived will be resurrected to mortal life.

Now let's back up a bit and examine this closely.

Why doesn't HWA ever mention what will happen to all the people who aligned themselves with Satan and were defeated? These people have lived through the Millennium, obeyed the Headquarters Government, and now have rebelled against it. HWA explains that Christ will defeat the devil and he will be cast into the Lake of Fire. But what will happen to the millions who were devoured by this fire? Will they come up in the Second or Third Resurrection? HWA says, "Those who had not been in the first resurrection or called by God" will be in this Great White Throne Judgment (or second resurrection).8 From this, we can assume that these people have been "called by God" during the Millennium. This means, they had "their chance" at salvation, but rejected it. That leaves only one choice—they must come up in the Third Resurrection. But there's a problem. If this army, "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea," comes up in this final resurrection, then this dispels HWA's teaching that "only a few" would be punished at the Third Resurrection. (See quotes in The Third Resurrection section below).

The Second Resurrection—The Great White Throne Judgment

After Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire, there comes the Great White Throne Judgment. All who lived—from the time of Adam to Christ's second coming who weren't part of the First Resurrection—will be resurrected to mortal life. This will include the nation of Ancient Israel. This is known by members as the Second Resurrection, which they believe depicts the Last Great Day of the Feast. During this Resurrection, mankind will finally have its eyes opened to "The Truth" (HWA's doctrines) and will be offered salvation for the first time:

In this judgment is to be "the book of life," meaning many, perhaps most, shall then find spiritual salvation and eternal life. In the time of their judgment, Satan will be GONE! (The Incredible Human Potential, pg. 158-159, 1978) [bolding mine]

Members believe these people never had a first chance since the Tree of Life (which HWA said represented the Holy Spirit9) was cut off from them. Now that Satan is gone forever, these people will supposedly get their first chance at salvation. (This is why members will not listen to "second chance salvation" arguments. They truly believe that people never had a "first chance" in this present life). Of course, according to HWA, the majority will accept Christ (this teaching is known as near-universalism):

Your Bible shows that the vast majority of those who have ever lived will finally be born into God's Family at the end of their coming period of judgment. ... These billions of people who come up in this resurrection will have 100 years to prove themselves. After this 100-year period expires, "Those who continue to live God's way of life will be changed from mortality to immortality at the end of this period of judgment." (The Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1987, Lesson 31) [bolding mine]

Sounds great, doesn't it? Unfortunately, HWA cannot give a single Scripture to support this "100-year period to prove themselves" theory, and he knows it. In the MOA, he avoids stating this directly:

But the penalty for sin is DEATH in the final last judgment. Since all have sinned, all shall be judged guilty and sentenced. But they shall learn that Jesus Christ paid their penalty in their stead. And in repentance, demonstrated by performance, they will be given an opportunity yet at that time to choose LIFE, and be made immortal. (p. 355)

In 1965, he boldly declared a 100-year probational period, but here, HWA resorts to generic terminology. Could it be that others have caught on to this discrepancy and asked for scriptural references, where none could be found? HWA quoted Isaiah 65:20 as proof in his earlier publications:

No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his day; For the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. (The Ambassador College Correspondence Course, 1965, Lesson 39, p. 12)

Again, HWA quotes this verse out of context. When the whole paragraph is read, one can easily see that this verse isn't referring to life spans in the Great White Throne Judgment, but in the Millennium! HWA pulled a fast one on his followers. Why would verse 20 be speaking of the Great White Throne Judgment, but verses 21-25 be speaking about the Millennium?

And they shall build houses and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them...they shall not build and another inhabit.... They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble...And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock, and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 65:25)

Members fully understand this refers to the Millennium. Here is another clear example of how HWA misappropriates Scripture so it will fit his doctrines.

Let's again look at some more interesting loopholes in HWA's theology. HWA plainly states that at the end of the 100-year period of this Judgment, "Those who continue to live God's way of life will be changed from mortality to immortality at the end of this period of judgment."10 How does this happen? Do these people wake up one day, and "poof!" they've turned into spirit beings? According to HWA: (my comments will be in brackets)

COMMENT: This verse [speaking of Isa. 65:20] strongly indicates that those resurrected then will live for 100 years, no matter how old they were when they died. Further, it indicates that the child (of God) will, at the end of this period, be changed--the fleshly cells of the body will die as the person puts on immortality. [This death of the physical cells of the body also occurs to Christians who are alive at Christ's Second Coming. They, too, die—but do not sleep the sleep of death; they are in the "twinkling of an eye" changed to immortality.] The wicked sinner at the end of the 100 years will be under a curse—will die in the lake of fire. (The Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1987, Lesson 31) [bolding mine]

How is this death of the physical, fleshly cells accomplished? HWA taught that "flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God," so where does all this flesh and blood go? This transformation will involve over 6 billion people--almost the entire population of the earth. One would think an event of this magnitude would be worth mentioning somewhere in the Scriptures. But it isn't. Furthermore, Isaiah 65:20 makes absolutely no indication that a child of God will be changed at the end of this 100-year period, or anything at all concerning fleshly cells dying. Here is another example of how HWA's followers believe his interpretations instead of what the Bible actually says. Instead of plainly saying the "physical body dies" he resorts to this kind of ridiculous meandering to palm off a big lie. He doesn't want his followers envisioning 6 billion bodies littered all over the millennial paradise.

And what happens to those who fail the test—those who won't conform to HWA's government? Members are taught that there will be a fire burning in the Valley of Hinnom throughout the Millennium and the 100-year White Throne Judgment period. The unrepentant will be thrown into this fire where they will be destroyed. These will actually come up again to the final Judgment—the Third Resurrection. If this was true, then HWA has people dying physically twice—once in this present life and again in the 100-year period—which clearly contradicts Hebrews 9:27: "…it is appointed unto men once to die..."

The Bible does not teach that there will be a "second chance." If men were given a second chance, and they fail again, then they would have to physically die twice, which clearly violates scripture. Those who die in the Lord enter into Paradise (Luke 23:43). Paradise never refers to the millennial earth, but to heaven exclusively—something HWA clearly avoided to point out to his followers. In 2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul speaks of being caught up to the third heaven, which he plainly calls Paradise (v. 4). Again in Revelation 2:7, the tree of life is in the midst of the paradise of God in heaven. Revelation 22:1-2 and 14 tell us that the tree of life is in heaven. God clearly rewards the believer with the blessed privilege of entering heaven where there is peace, rest, beauty and life (1 Pet. 1:4, 2 Tim. 4:18, 2 Cor. 5:1-2, 1 John 5:11-13). But those who persistently engage in evil (1 Cor. 6:9-10, Gal. 5:19, Rev. 21:8) will not be permitted to enter this paradise (Rev. 22:15), nor given a chance to spoil it with sin. They will suffer everlasting shame being eternally separated from the light of God.

The Third Resurrection

Finally, HWA taught that there would be a Third Resurrection, and members and children both have been made to fear it greatly. Along with the incorrigible and the unrepentant, their loved ones—who fell out of favor with the church and were disfellowshipped—will be resurrected to their impending doom. This teaching is what keeps them from defecting and makes them compliant. Members are taught that once they have "tasted the Truth" and then "turned their backs on God's true Way of Life," it will result in "Eternal Death" because they have rejected God and His Laws and have proven themselves "unsubmissive" and/or "rebellious" to the "government of God." (This, by the way, is considered the worst sin they can commit.) They are taught that if they come up in this Third Resurrection, they will have to personally face God:

...All of those wicked who have rejected God's ways and died in their sins will be raised to physical life. They will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive their reward—to suffer final extinction in the Lake of Fire. For them, this is the second death! They will never again be resurrected!
The much smaller number of rebellious will meet face to face with their Judge in the third Resurrection... (The Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1965, Lesson 39, p. 13) [bolding mine]
Out of all the earth's population, a few people will fail in God's plan. They will fail because they stubbornly insist on their own way--the way of death (Prov. 14:12). They persist in living rebellious, sinful lives, making themselves and those around them miserable. (The Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1987, Lesson 31, "The Last Great Day") [bolding mine]

Nothing invokes a stronger reaction than being rejected by God Himself. This teaching of a Third Resurrection (which is nowhere found in the Bible) has caused untold misery for members and children alike. If a spouse, parent, grandparent, even a child, leaves the church and/or is disfellowshipped, the member in good standing must choose between association with the marked family member/friend, or risk placing their salvation in jeopardy. Members are taught that those who have been marked from the pulpit are destined for the Lake of Fire if they don't repent. Part of the "repentance" process is to force the ex-member into complete isolation from the rest of the congregation. If one does not shun a marked member, they are told they will be infected by the "bitterness, bad attitudes, lies, and rebellion" of the ex-member. Members are also warned that "Satan will use this person to pull them out of the true church" and ultimately end up in the Lake of Fire. Since this is their "only chance" for salvation, they understand that the risk is far too great. This defies logic, but the fear internalized by members is the impetus for disassociation toward even their own flesh and blood family.

The god of HWA is a very unjust god. He rewards the wicked while he punishes the good. He allows unrepentant men to die and rest in total unconsciousness while church members are rebuilding the earth into a paradise. They must endure the stench of cleaning up all the dead bodies, and the hard labor of rubble removal of entire wasted cities. Homes must be built and gardens must be planted not only for the current survivors, but also for the future billions who will be resurrected. After a thousand years, these evil men will be resurrected (this includes serial killers, rapists, murderers, etc.) to this beautiful earth and given another chance without Satan around. Not only do they have it easier, their punishment is laughable: They will be beaten with ten stripes, while someone who commits a lesser crime (i. e., adultery) will be beaten with one. But if a church member (or child of a church member) isn't totally obedient to the "government of God," and is put out of the church, he won't get a second chance and is cast into the Lake of Fire. Can this really be called justice? Compare this scenario with the teaching of a "deceived" Christian scholar:

There are certain preliminary facts which should be recognized in the discussion of this subject [the final destination of the wicked]. That it shall be well with the righteous, and woe to the wicked (Isa. 3:10-11). That there is to be retribution for sin and a reward for the righteous must be held to be beyond question, and must be recognized as an unchangeable law. One cannot very well meddle with that truth without serious danger. (Great Doctrines of the Bible, 1949, pp. 257-258).

Isn't this the truth? When we start to reward the wicked and punish the righteous, there is serious danger that lies ahead. God will reward the believer and protect the righteous from fornicators, idolaters, thieves, drunkards, extortionists, murderers, liars, etc. (1 Cor. 6:9-10, Gal. 5:19, Rev. 21:8). None of these will inherit the Kingdom of God as Scripture clearly affirms. (Rev. 22:14-15) This is proper justice. The supposed "unpardonable sins" of those who were put out of the church for wanting to marry someone the ministry declares "unsuitable," or for breaking the "no-contact rule" by speaking to a blood relative, or getting medical attention for a sick child, can hardly begin to compare. This type of reversed justice practiced by HWA's organization is warped and dangerous.

The Bible only teaches two resurrections, one that occurs before the Millennium, and one that occurs after the Millennium:

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:29)
And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. (Acts 24:15)

In fact, HWA cannot give a single Scripture to prove there is a Third Resurrection. He simply splits the Great White Throne Judgment into two separate events. HWA created this Third Resurrection to scare his followers into submission. HWA taught his followers to reject Christianity for teaching the "falsehood of hell," but his Third Resurrection is the loaded term he uses for hell. In the above quotes made by HWA, we see him state that only a few would go there (the majority of them being expelled church members). He makes no mention as to what happens to those multiple millions who joined Satan's forces at the end of the Millennium. This would certainly contradict his teaching that only a few would be punished.


After the Great White Throne Judgment and the Third Resurrection have been completed, God's throne will descend from heaven and be established on this earth. HWA informs his readers, in the final section of the MOA subtitled, "Earth to Become UNIVERSE Headquarters," that mankind will finally be at one with the Father and Son. This implies that Christians are not now one with the Father and Jesus Christ, contradicting the very words of Jesus!

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)

Why would HWA want Christians to believe they are not now one with God? Is he denying the Holy Spirit here?

From here, man will fulfill his destiny:

Our potential is to be born into the God family, receiving total power! We are to be given jurisdiction over the entire universe!
What are we going to do then? These scriptures indicate we shall impart life to billions and billions of dead planets, as life has been imparted to this earth. We shall create, as God directs and instructs. We shall rule through all eternity! (p. 362)

HWA quotes the 8th chapter of Romans as scriptural proof. Notice how many times he uses the word "we"? It's all about us, isn't it? What WE get out of all of this. This clearly shows that even to the very end of the MOA, the whole focus isn't on how we are to serve, worship, and glorify our Lord and Savior. No, the focus is clearly about us and HWA eagerly promises to deliver. We will be given total power! We will rule the universe! We will be creators! We will rule forever! One can almost hear the maniacal laughter in the background. Where is the humility? The gentleness? The meekness? Where is there any mention of loving the Lord Jesus Christ with all our hearts, minds, and souls for all eternity? What about the thankfulness for being restored to complete Christ-likeness, our eternal glory? There is no mention of worshipping the Lord because WE are now God, and WE deserve to be worshiped! This is outright blasphemy and is an awful, awful position to be in. We are desperately sinful when we think we can tell God what to do and to equate ourselves to Him.

The reader steps out from the dark, twisted labyrinth and into the light. So relieved to be out of the confusing tunnel, that he hardly notices the shackles that have been placed around his ankles by his trusted guide. He will have to work, and work hard to be a part of the elite force that will rule the world, his guide informs him. A heavy sack has been strapped to his back and a blindfold placed over his eyes. He must carry this heavy burden, blindfolded—trusting his evil guide—until the end.

And thus ends the critique of the Mystery of the Ages. Below is HWA's personal view:

"I candidly feel it [Mystery of the Ages] may be the most important book since the Bible." (Dear Brethren and Co-Worker letter, September 1985)

Mystery of the Ages is a conglomeration of all of HWA's teachings into one volume. Members are taught to esteem it highly. It is the book one needs in order to correctly interpret the Scriptures. Without it, one cannot understand the Bible, they are told. This certainly puts Mystery of the Ages on par with the Bible since one needs to have it in order to decode the Bible. A German theologian and expert on the occult has made the following observation:

"Everything that claims to possess an equal authority to the Scriptures is false teaching." (Occult ABC, Kurt E. Koch, 1978, 1986, p. 30)

HWA is guilty of false teaching. Those who put their trust in the Lord must avoid false teachers. Over and over again, in the MOA, we have seen false teaching after false teaching. HWA epitomizes 1 Timothy 6:3-5. He was known to be very proud and extravagant, disguising this as, "God loves Quality." Throughout the entire MOA, we have seen him stir up strife with divisive accusations against Biblical Christianity. We certainly see little of the actual words of Christ used in the MOA, leaving out the wholesome words of our Savior. All of this is done for one specific purpose, as Scripture astutely observes: financial gain.

May the reader listen to Paul, and do so accordingly. May the Spirit lead those who have read this review to "withdraw from such" and seek the love, goodness, kindness and gentleness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is waiting with open arms and gives rest to all who come to Him:

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

By Kelly Marshall (former WCG member)
Exit & Support Network™
August 2006
Last updated 2012

Pt. 1 | Pt. 2 | Pt. 3

Table of Contents | Intro | Chap. 1 | Chap. 2 | Chap. 3 | Chap. 4 | Chap. 5 | Chap. 6 | Chap 7

Footnotes for Chapter Seven:

1 While Christians since the first century have believed in Christ's millennial kingdom, in a spiritual sense believers are already in the Kingdom of God: "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:" (Col. 1:13).

2 "The new covenant prophesied in the Old Testament [will] have its primary fulfillment in the millennial kingdom. ... The future salvation of Israel [referring to the nation of Israel, not the supposed modern day "lost tribes of Israel"] is promised under the unconditional new covenant (Isa. 27:9; Ezek. 37:23; Rom. 11:26-27). This salvation will be accomplished only on the ground of the shed blood of Christ." (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Major Bible Themes, 1926, 1953, 1974, p. 146, 148)

3 The Ambassador College Correspondence Course, 1972, Lesson 7, p. 13.

4 Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee, Luke 9:30-31, p. 287.

5 According to HWA, modern-day Germany is descended from the ancient Assyrians. See author's research article: The Origins of Assyria and Germany.

6 Approaching Jehovah's Witnesses in Love, 1998, p. 149.

7 This teaching originally came from false prophetess Ellen G. White. Also read: Sabbath and Sunday (Common Arguments & Misunderstandings)

8 Is This the Only Day of Salvation? Roderick C. Meredith, 1958; The Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1985, Lesson 21.

9 The Incredible Human Potential, Herbert W. Armstrong, 1978, p. 158.

10 "God offered him [Adam] freely the fruit of the TREE OF LIFE -- which symbolized God's HOLY SPIRIT." Ibid., p. 74.

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