These fear-based statements are what Herbert Armstrong and his ministers have proclaimed to members to keep them in bondage. Similar words continue today in controlling offshoots and splinter groups such as Philadelphia Church of God, Restored Church of God, Living Church of God, etc. Notice that these assertions are all based on unfounded fear, which is the backbone of exploitive, abusive and deceptive groups. It is time to look at some of these lies and to replace them with the truth from the Word of God.
Note: We encourage our readers look up the Scriptures we have quoted.
“A lie will be allowed to proliferate if no one challenges it.” ~ Anonymous
LIE: “Herbert W. Armstrong is God’s true Apostle (and Elijah) for this end time age and only he is preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations!”
TRUTH: HWA wasn’t an apostle because the qualification for apostles were men who not only had seen the resurrected Christ, but were directly and personally commissioned by Him to preach the gospel. (Galatians 1:1)
LIE: “HWA restored the Truths of God and the true gospel!”
TRUTH: Jesus Christ is the Truth. The gospel is that which centers around Him–what He has done for us in His death and resurrection and what He is going to do for us. (I Corinthians 15:1-4) Those who continue to hold onto HWA’s false gospel never come to a true knowledge of the Jesus Christ of Scripture (II Timothy 3:7).
LIE: “HWA received Truth from God!”
TRUTH: HWA stole doctrines from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists, COG 7th Day, and Pentecostals, plagiarizing and copying their booklets and then added his own twist, including fear phobia.
“Mystery of the Ages (critical review)” by Kelly Marshall, Chap. 3, pt. 2 (shows HWA’s plagiarizing from Jehovah’s Witnesses; search for the word “Watchtower) (available as PDF download)
LIE: “We go by the Bible alone, not the Bible and something else!”
TRUTH: Herbert W. Armstrong added his Mystery of the Ages to the Bible, saying it was the “most important book since the Bible.” He stated that without it we can’t understand the Bible. Gerald Flurry not only agrees, but claims that Malachi’s Message is the “3rd most important book to the Bible.” Christians receive truth from the Word of God (which the Holy Spirit will make understandable), not from extra-biblical sources. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
“Everything that claims to possess an equal authority to the Scriptures is false teaching.”
(Kurt E. Koch, Occult ABC, 1978, 1986, p. 30)
LIE: “You must obey whatever Herbert W. Armstrong says because he is under God!”
TRUTH: There is only one Mediator between God and man–the man Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 2:5) HWA was not only never “under God” but his bad fruits showed he was never “of God.”
LIE: “I [Herbert W. Armstrong] am your father and you are my little children!”
TRUTH: God is our Father and we are His children, because of our faith and trust in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 4:6)
LIE: “God called you to be a part of His Work!”
TRUTH: The work of God is believing on Jesus (John 6:29). He finished the work (of redemption) on the cross. (John 4:34; John. 17:4)
LIE: “Only those who have their heart in the Work of God are growing!”
TRUTH: The work of God has to do with Jesus Christ, not with Herbert Armstrong. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:28). “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).
LIE: “This is God’s true Church!”
TRUTH: All exploitive, high demand groups (also known as “destructive Bible-based cults” proclaim this. Yet God’s true church is made up of a body of believers who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and, as a result, have received the Holy Spirit. Only fellowship with Him, the Son of God, can make one a member of the “true” church.
LIE: “God called you into His Church!”
TRUTH: Jesus Christ calls us to Himself, not to any particular church or denomination. (Matthew 11:28; John 7:37; Romans 1:6)
LIE: “You know God’s Truth because He called you into it!”
TRUTH: Truth (the true gospel) came by Jesus Christ, not by Herbert Armstrong. (John 1:17) He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Knowing His truth sets us free. (John 8:32) All totalistic or high demand groups (sometimes referred to as religious cults) proclaim that they have “the truth.”
LIE: “You must hold fast to all of the Truth that you learned from the beginning of your calling–the Sabbath, Holy Days, tithing, and all the law of love that God gave!”
TRUTH: This “law of love” according to HWA translated to keeping the Ten Commandments (and parts of the old covenant) which demand absolute perfection (Galatians 3:10) and which can only condemn (II Corinthians 3:7). Trying to obey this Law stirs up sin and keeps one focused on overcoming sin instead of focusing on Christ. Christians are to live by faith and walk in the Spirit. The only “Truth” we are to hold fast to is the Lord Jesus Christ.
TRUTH: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by being made a curse for us. (Galatians 3:13) The Law (which no one has ever been able to keep in its entirety) was our schoolmaster (i. e., paidagōgos) to bring us to Christ and we are made the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21). Our blessings are spiritual today, not physical. (Ephesians 1:3)
LIE: “Once you know the Truth, you are held responsible for it!”
TRUTH: The truth that we are responsible for is whether we will accept God’s free gift of eternal life. (John 3:16) The truth is in Jesus. (Ephesians 4:21)
LIE: “Once you’ve put your hand to the plow, you can’t go back!”
TRUTH: We are free to walk away from deceptive organizations that teach HWA’s so-called “truths” and to come to the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matthew 11:28; John 6:37)
LIE: “God works through the government in His Church. It is from the top down and you don’t question it, or you are questioning God!”
TRUTH: God works through His Holy Spirit today. All false leaders of religious cults mix God with the government of their organization. This lie is told in order to keep members from thinking critically, questioning, and leaving. Jesus said that the leadership in a church is not to exercise lordship over the people, but to serve them. (Luke 22:25-26)
LIE: “You must obey God’s Government and always be loyal!”
TRUTH: This meant members must obey the leadership of this “true Church” and never disobey what the leader says. Jesus Christ says we are to abide in Him and be obedient to Him, not to a church government that rules by fear. (John 15:4-5, 14)
LIE: “The gospel of the Kingdom is a gospel about government!”
TRUTH: The gospel is called “the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16; 15:19); “the gospel of peace” (Romans 10:15; Ephesians 6:15); “the gospel of His Son” (Romans 1:9); “the glorious gospel of Christ” (I Corinthians 9:18; II Corinthians 4:4); “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24); “the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1); “the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1), the “gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13) and “the glorious gospel of God” (I Timothy 1:11). There is only one gospel, but there are several facets to it. The gospel is not about what we preach, but about whom–Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:28) When the Gospel was taken to Antioch, it says they spoke unto them “preaching the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 11:20) Paul declared to the Corinthians that the gospel he preached unto them was about Christ’s death and resurrection. (See I Corinthians 15:1-4) He also called it “the gospel of God…concerning his son Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:1,3). When Jesus was preaching the “gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:14), He was telling them that it was at hand in the person of the King.
HWA’s gospel was another gospel. (Galatians 1:6; II Corinthians 11:4)
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8)
LIE: “Only those that keep God’s Holy Days understand the Plan of God!”
TRUTH: The holy days in the Old Testament were part of the covenant made with ancient Israel. The N.T. tells us that all these rituals were shadows that pointed to Christ. Our word “photograph” comes from the Greek word used here for “shadow” (which is skia). These days were pictures of Christ. A shadow has no substance; the reality is Christ.
LIE: “The Passover must be kept yearly to remember Christ’s death!”
TRUTH: The Passover was never given to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ. It looked forward to His coming. It is the Lord’s Supper (or Communion) that looks back to what He did for us on the cross and forward to His coming again and may be observed more than once a year. (I Corinthians 11:26)
LIE: “If you are sick, you have broken physical laws and you need to repent!”
TRUTH: Christ’s sacrifice is not in two parts (i. e., physical sins and spiritual sins). Peter makes it clear that we are healed spiritually of our trespasses and sins: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the cross, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (I Pet. 2:24) “This [reference by Peter to Isaiah 53:5] does not refer to physical healing for the verb’s past tense indicates completed action, the ‘healing’ is an accomplished fact. The reference is to salvation. Christ’s suffering and death accomplished ‘healing,’ the salvation of every individual who trusts Him as his Savior.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary – New Testament, 1983, p. 848; emp. ours)
LIE: “You must keep the Ten Commandments if you want to be saved!”
TRUTH: We are not justified by the Law of Moses (which the Ten Commandments were a part of) but by the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ, and only through Him are we accepted by God. (Acts 13:39; Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:21; Ephesians1:6) After placing our faith in Christ, God’s love in us produces the fruit of the Spirit. This has nothing to do with trying to achieve our salvation by keeping the Ten Commandments given by Moses. (John 1:17)
LIE: “Sunday is the day of the sun god and if you worship on that day, you worship Satan!”
TRUTH: All days of the week (and months) are based on pagan names. Saturday means “Saturn,” “Monday” refers to the “moon god,” and so forth. The holy days in the O.T. merely pointed to Jesus Christ (as a shadow) and were fulfilled in Him when He died and was resurrected bodily from the grave. (Luke 24:44) Today we rest in Christ every day, because we have entered into the rest of His salvation. (Hebrews 4:9-10)
Did Jeroboam Change the Sabbath to Sunday? (mentions “sun god” and “Saturn.”
LIE: “Easter, Christmas, birthdays and other religious holidays are pagan! But Thanksgiving and July 4th are okay because they are American traditions.”
TRUTH: HWA wanted members to be different than the rest of people outside his organization in order to isolate them. (This is part of the milieu control that deceptive groups exercise.) Today Christians aren’t worshipping idols or even thinking about pagan gods when they acknowledge these days. Our attitude and motives are what is important. If one chooses not to observe these days, they are free not to, but if they do choose to, they aren’t sinning.
LIE: “It is possible to believe in Christ, even worship Him, in the customary manner of the day and yet be lost!”
TRUTH: Salvation is about the Person of the Lord Jesus and only by faith in Him can we be saved. (John 1:12; John 5:24; John 6:47; Roman 4:5; I John 5:13) Anyone who turns to Christ, believing that He is the Son of God who died for all their sins and rose again, will not be cast out (John 6:34), but will receive the Holy Spirit which imparts everlasting life.
LIE: “Only those who have qualified will inherit the Kingdom of God!”
TRUTH: Salvation is a free gift and does not include doing something (i. e., keeping the Sabbath, Feast days, tithing, or any kind of ritual or law) to qualify for it. (Romans 5:15; Ephesians 2:8-9) When we come to God, we come empty-handed, and He saves us because of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in His finished atoning work at Calvary. In a spiritual sense, we 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:” (Colossians 1:13).
LIE: “You must obey God or you won’t make it!”
TRUTH: The members’ allegiance to God was transferred (without their realizing it) to the leader of the group. Sanctification (to make holy) is accomplished by the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:11) By one offering of Christ on the cross we are perfected forever and it is He that will save us and keep us. (Hebrews 10:14)
LIE: “If you obey, you will be blessed; if you disobey, you will be cursed!”
TRUTH: Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law and we are not under any curse today. (Galatians 3:13) The blessings were physical in the Old Testament (rain, good crops, healthy livestock); however, in the New Testament the blessings are spiritual. (Ephesians 1:3) We have already been blessed with every blessing in Christ Jesus our Savior.
LIE: “If you commit the unpardonable sin, you will lose the Holy Spirit!”
TRUTH: There is no act of sin that you can commit for which there is no forgiveness as Jesus died for all our sins–past, present and future. The unpardonable sin (Matthew 12:32) was attributing the Spirit’s work to Satan. In our day that sin cannot be committed, as it could only be committed when Jesus was here upon the earth. The Holy Spirit cannot be lost (John 14:16) and if we have believed on, and trusted in Him as our personal Savior, we have the assurance of eternal life now. (I John 5:13)
LIE: “Some churches have some of the truth, but only this Church has all the Truth!”
TRUTH: All cultic groups provide an absolute triad of black and white answers to life’s problems and state that only they have all the truth. Only the Word of God has the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ, which is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. (I John 2:27; John 16:14-15)
“Satan seems willing to let the deceived have parts of the truth.” (words by HWA’s in “Mystery of the Ages (a critical review)” by Kelly Marshall, Chap. 6, pt. 4 (available by PDF download)
LIE: “Sin is the transgression of God’s Law!”
TRUTH: The word “iniquity” fits better for the Greek word anomia in I John 3:4.The Greek says sin is “missing the mark” or “offense.”
LIE: “To repent means to turn and go the other way–God’s way!”
TRUTH: The Greek word metanoia, which is translated repentance in our English Bibles, means “a change of mind.” When sinners turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith (Acts 16:31), they then will turn from sin. (I Thes. 1:9) Nothing is said about going “God’s way.” Jesus Christ says He is “the Way” and to come to Him. (John 14:6; Matthew 11:28)
LIE: “The Bible is a coded book!”
TRUTH: The Bible is a closed book until the Holy Spirit opens one’s mind and makes it real. The Spirit is the One that searches the deep things of God and He alone can show us what the Bible says. (I Corinthians 2:9-10; John 16:15)
LIE: “Prophecy is the key that unlocks the Scriptures!”
TRUTH: Jesus Christ through His Spirit is the One who unlocks the Scriptures. Anyone who tries to exclude Him will not understand the heart of the Bible, which centers around Him and our close relationship with Him. (Luke 24:27)
LIE: “Only by God’s true ministers laying their hands on you can you receive His Holy Spirit!”
TRUTH: The laying on of hands does not cause God to give one the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes by faith. “…that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14) When a minister performs this in a Christian church, it simply means “identification.” The person is being identified with the church for service, or are being consecrated and set aside. The Holy Spirit baptizes, indwells and seals a person the very moment they place their faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and trust Him as their personal Savior. (Ephesians 1:13; Luke 11:13; II Corinthians 1:22)
LIE: “You are sinning physically if you eat pork!”
TRUTH: The law of clean and unclean meats in the O.T. was given to ancient Israel for the purpose of setting them apart from the other wicked nations. In the N.T. Jesus said, “Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him” (Mark 7:18). If we don’t want to eat pork, we don’t have do, but if we do eat it, it is not a sin because the N.T. church is not under the Mosaic Law. HWA said we would get sick, or die young, or come under a curse if we ate these things. It was just one more way he knew he could keep members different from outside people and, as a result, more under his control.
LIE: “It’s a lack of faith to go to doctors!”
TRUTH: Nothing in the Bible says it is a lack of faith to go to doctors. Luke himself was called “the beloved physician.” (Colossians 4:14) The main reason HWA didn’t want us to go to doctors was because if we were giving our money to the doctors, then he would have less of our money for himself! HWA went to doctors himself.
LIE: “Satan can read your thoughts!”
TRUTH: Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Satan or his demons can read our thoughts. Only God knows our thoughts. (Psalm 139:23) Satan may try to come against us with spiritual attacks, but we are to put on the spiritual armor of God to withstand Him. (Ephesians 6:13)
LIE: “When you die, you remain in the ground until the resurrection!”
TRUTH: HWA often used the book of Ecclesiastics to try and prove this doctrine. Ecclesiastics has always been a favorite of cults (and atheists), because they can take certain Scriptures out of context and give them an entirely wrong meaning. HWA took the doctrine of “soul sleep” from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but it is not found in the Bible. (Read “Mystery of the Ages (a critical review)” by Kelly Marshall, Chap. 3, for more on this.) (available by PDF download) When the body dies it, has no thoughts in the grave and disintegrates, decays and decomposes, but the spirit and personality (the real “you”) goes on to be with the Lord since you are His child. (Philippians 1:23; II Corinthians 5:1, 8) Then at the last trump (the first resurrection) we will receive a new body that is incorruptible and fashioned after the resurrected body of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 15:52) Also read: John 11:25-26.
LIE: “God’s Apostle must approach world leaders with the ‘give and get’ way and not mention the name of Christ!”
TRUTH: HWA preached a Christ that was taking a “hands-off” policy with this world; therefore, making us believe that there was no need for evangelism. However, it is only through the name of Jesus Christ that we are saved (John 1:12) and we are not to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. (Romans 1:16)
LIE: “When God’s Kingdom is set up on earth, you will be gods in the Kingdom of God ruling those that come out of the Great Tribulation!”
TRUTH: HWA copied this teaching from the Mormons (Latter-day Saints) who teach that their members will be gods ruling other planets. (HWA also taught we would become God and rule over our own planet). We are children of God, but we do not become Gods. (Isaiah 42:8; 43:10; 44:6; 44:8; 48:11.) HWA also lied when he said that the word “mansions” in John 14:2 means “offices” or “positions” in the Kingdom of God. The Greek word is monē and means “residence, abiding places.”
LIE: “The Jesus in other churches (outside Armstrong’s church) is a false Christ and members are worshipping Satan!”
TRUTH: The “Jesus” taught by HWA (and his ministers) is a false Jesus, and is not accurately portrayed as the Word of God portrays Him.
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (II John 9).
LIE: “The reason you aren’t prospering financially is because you are robbing God of your tithes and offerings!”
TRUTH: The reason we weren’t prospering was because we were required to pay into “headquarters” an unbiblical 1st, 2nd and 3rd tithe, plus a tithe of the tithe, holy day offerings, regular offerings, building fund, love fund, garden tithe, etc., all of which was unknowingly used to increase the lifestyle of the leaders. It was the leadership who was robbing the people!
Cruden’s Complete Concordance under “tithe” states:
“In the New Testament, neither our Saviour, nor his apostles have commanded any thing in this affair of tithes.”
LIE: “Your sins killed Christ and you better fast and pray before you take Passover!”
TRUTH: Jesus Christ willingly died for our sins. “…your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake” (I John 2:12). We do not need to observe Passover today, as Passover looked forward to Jesus’ first coming. The Lord’s Supper (or Communion) may be taken without fear, as often as Christians choose, to remember His death which paid for all our sins. (I Corinthians 11:26)
LIE: “The Church is the mother that feeds us; to leave is to leave God!”
TRUTH: God is revealed to us in the Word of God, not in a particular church. HWA mixed his organization with God in our minds. A church and a ceremony can never bring you life eternal, only Jesus Christ can do that. (John 5:40)
LIE: “Don’t mix in with the people in the world!”
TRUTH: HWA didn’t want us to make friends with those outside his “Church” because he knew that if he could influence who we spent our time with, he could exercise more control over us. In other words, he wanted to make sure that we spent our social time (and Sabbaths) only with the members, so that we could all think alike (and be programmed alike).
LIE: “Don’t listen to those that have left; they will pull you away!”
TRUTH: This lie is to keep members from hearing something critical and revealing about the group they are in. It is part of the milieu (environmental) control that totalistic groups use.
LIE: “There is nothing on the outside; once you leave God’s true church, expect curses and death!”
TRUTH: There is freedom and spiritual growth on the outside. Christ says that He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and the Comforter (Holy Spirit) which He sent will abide with us forever. (John 14:16)
LIE: “Those that leave always become bitter!”
TRUTH: Those that leave often become justifiably angry, not bitter, because they have understood that they were deceived, exploited and betrayed by a fraudulent organization that never fulfilled any of HWA’s promises, but instead stole their time, their money, and their life.
LIE: “Those that are put out of God’s Church are to be shunned!”
TRUTH: Jesus never shunned those who were considered outcasts, but was merciful and compassionate. He tells us to restore others in a spirit of meekness (Galatians 6:1), to be kind to one another and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32), and to love one another. (I Thessalonians 4:9)
LIE: “This Church is the only Church that is warning the world before it is too late!”
TRUTH: It is not Christians job to warn the world of a coming Tribulation, but to give out the Word of God in order that others might be saved. (Romans 10:8-9)
LIE: “The Tribulation and God’s Kingdom will be here within 5 (15, 20) years!”
TRUTH: Leaders of mind-manipulating groups continually deceive their members by giving out new prophecies (or revelations) with dates that never come to pass. Jesus Christ has told us that no man knows the day nor the hour of His return. (Matthew 24:36)
LIE: “The Philadelphia era will be taken to a place of safety during the Great Tribulation and the Laodiceans will go into captivity, be tortured and martyred!”
TRUTH: The word “place of safety” is not found in the Scriptures. The purpose of these words is to cause members to fear to leave the organization that they have been told is the “true Church.” God has not given us a spirit of fear. (II Timothy 1:7; I John 4:18)
LIE: “If you do not obey the government of God, you will suffer the wrath of God in the Tribulation!”
TRUTH: We that are in Christ Jesus have not been appointed to suffer the wrath of God (I Thessalonians 5:9), which is only for those who have rejected the precious blood of the Lamb. Furthermore, God’s anger cannot be compared to human anger–peevish or petulant–but instead is against wickedness and sin. The words “government of God” are used by religious cults to keep one loyal to the government of their exclusive organization.
LIE: “If you leave the true Church, you will suffer the plagues of God in the Great Tribulation!”
TRUTH: Christ already placed us in His church when we believed on Him. We have been delivered from any plagues that are to come upon the wicked and will obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9)
LIE: “If you don’t continue to obey what HWA taught, you will be destroyed in the third resurrection!”
TRUTH: The Bible teaches no such thing as a “third” resurrection. When you place your faith in Christ as your personal Savior, He promises that you will be in the resurrection of the just and shall never die. (John 11:25-26)
LIE: “If you leave, you have left the vine and will be cut off and wither and die spiritually!”
TRUTH: Jesus Christ is the true Vine (John 15:5), not some organization that claims to be the “true Church.” Never does He say that we will die spiritually. Once we are saved, we cannot be taken out of His hand. (John 10:28-29)
LIE: “If you leave this Church, God will leave you!”
TRUTH: We identified the group with God, and because of the guilt instilled in us if we didn’t “obey,” we felt He left us when we left the group. The truth is that the true God, as revealed in Christ Jesus, will never leave His children (Heb. 13:5) and His invitation is always, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
THE ANSWER TO LIES: God tells us many times in His Word to “fear not” and that “perfect love casts out fear” and He “has not given us the spirit of fear.” He promises that He “will never leave us, nor forsake us.” We cannot grow or mature as Christians, or individuals, when we are ruled by fear. (Use a concordance for the KJV and look up how many times the words “fear not,” “be not afraid” or “not be afraid” are listed in the Word of God.)
The TRUTH: The true Lord Jesus Christ reveals that the marvelous grace of God has been obtained for us when He paid for all our sins, past present and future, and reconciled us to the Father. The veil in the temple was rent asunder, which represented our access to God was now fully open because He became our Mediator. This true Jesus went away to prepare a home for us and will return again to resurrect us, give us new bodies, and take us to be with Him forever. Nothing can ever separate us from His love because He has completely, once and for all, forgiven all our sins.
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” ~John 8:32