For this post we shall be looking at the earlier 1996 version of this booklet.
Meredith begins with the following words in the introduction.
What did Jesus REALLY preach? Do you know? Don’t be too sure! Just what did He mean by “the Kingdom of God”? Here is exciting Good News: there IS a new world coming!
In this booklet several times biblical commentaries are cited. Here are some of the books cited in Meredith's booklet followed by where they are cited in Meredith's booklet.
- Oxford Companion to the Bible, 1993. (p. 6.)
- James Hastings, A Dictionary of the Bible, 1988. (p. 7.)
- The Anchor Bible Dictionary. (pp. 15-16.)
- George E. Ledd, The Kingdom of God. (pp. 16-17.)
- Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, 1989. (p. 17.)
- Edward Gibson, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. (p. 34.)
- The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. (p. 40.)
But the main ideas expressed in this booklet are largely derived from the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong. Meredith as a young man listened to a radio show hosted by HWA. In 1947 HWA started up his own unaccredited college, Ambassador College, to train up ministers for his organization. Meredith was one of the first to go to there and was ordained a minister by HWA on December 20, 1952. Ever since then Meredith has devoted himself to spreading HWA's ideas, first on behalf of HWA's organization and from 1992 onward for his own COG splinter group, Global Church of God (1992-8) and Living Church of God (1998-present).
Meredith's citing of the books above are merely camouflage to hide the fact that his ideas are largely derived from HWA, a man who had no specialized instruction in understanding the Christian religion.
Your eternity depends on your willingness to understand and believe the true Gospel! (p. 1.)Meredith threatens the reader's salvation to make him or her believe what Meredith says.
But is that really the Gospel Jesus taught? If you have accepted, without question, the almost unanimous voice of mainstream Christianity in this regard, you probably think so. Yet consider what Mark Twain wrote: ....Mark Twain was an Atheist. Why is Meredith appealing to a non-religious man such as him in order to inspire doubt and uncertainty among his readers?
Do you really know what constitutes the genuine Gospel that Jesus and His apostles preached? Or have you made a careless assumption, following the crowd as Mark Twain noted, taking your beliefs from second-hand suppositions? (p. 2.)
Jesus is plainly saying that one can worship Him to no purpose, uselessly—if the doctrines on which that worship is based have their source in men’s erroneous ideas about how to interpret the Scriptures rather than the plain, intended teaching of the Word of God! (p. 3.)Meredith insinuates to his Christian readers that they religion is worthless in order to them to join his LCG.
What, then, is the actual Gospel that Jesus preached? Did He simply tell people to believe on Him—or was it far more than that? This is a vital question because, if you believe a lie rather than the Truth, you will eventually find yourself holding a bag of false hopes and unfulfilled expectations! (p. 3.)Once again Meredith threatens his readers' salvation to get their attention and make them doubt their own churches in order to convince them to join his LCG.
Christ later inspired the Apostle Paul to pronounce a double curse on anyone who would dare preach a different Gospel. He told the Galatian Christians, “But even if we, or an angel of heaven, preach ANY other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9). (p. 4.)But who was Paul talking about in Galatians? That letter was a polemic condemning those who said that Christians must be circumcised in order to fulfill the law.
Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. ... And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off! (Galatians 5:2-4, 11-12, NKJV.)In other words Paul was condemning those who insisted that the law was in force upon non-Jewish converts to Christianity. Meredith insists the law is in force for Christians today. Those condemned by Paul advocated circumcision in order to fulfill the law. Meredith insists the law is to be fulfilled even though he and HWA before him do not call for anyone to be circumcised. The difference is merely one of degree.
Meredith proclaims himself as one who "believes the doctrines clearly established by the original, faithful apostles as testified to by the Scriptures". Note how Meredith buries this claim in a sub-clause of the sentence as though it was not so important.
This is why I say—as a minister of Jesus Christ who teaches and believes the doctrines clearly established by the original, faithful apostles as testified to by the Scriptures—that it is critically important for you and your salvation to recognize the true Jesus Christ of the Bible and to prove for yourself what is the genuine Gospel which He preached! (p. 4.)This is a claim by Meredith to prop up his teachings.
Meredith seeks to gain the readers' trust by telling them that they are not obligated to believe what he says.
Don’t blindly believe this booklet—or any commentary or Bible study aid. Believe your Bible—believe God! People have gone off track spiritually by relying solely on men. God’s Word commands you to “ prove all things” (1 Thess. 5:21 KJV). Check up on this and examine it for yourself. Suspend your prior opinions and just read what God says. It will soon be clear in your mind that the Gospel of Christ is His message, from the Father, about the Kingdom of God. (p. 6.)But once one has become convinced that God is with Meredith's following such persons are expected to do as they are told.
Meredith asserts that his opinion was held without dispute by the early Christians until some two decades after the time of Jesus Christ.
It was not until false teachers began to subvert the early Church that Christ’s Gospel began to be perverted. Paul, writing about two decades after Christ’s death, was aware of one such distortion: “There are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:7). Among a growing number of heresies, perhaps none was gaining as much momentum as the new gospel about the events of Christ’s life and of simply believing on His person to be saved. (p. 7.)Paul was not talking about some people who said the law of the Old Testament were abolished. Paul was talking about those who insisted that Christians had to be circumcised.
But what is absolutely certain from this verse is that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God cannot be a simple proclamation stating that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. For we have just seen in Luke 9:11 that they had already been preaching the Gospel—but obviously had NOT told the people that Jesus was the Christ! (p. 8.)Meredith insists that Jesus Christ's divinity, death and resurrection are not the gospel.
The Gospel which Jesus had sent the apostles to preach was not centered on believing on Christ’s person or receiving forgiveness of sins through His sacrifice. Just talking about Christ is not the Gospel! Yes, Jesus Christ is the most important Person ever to have walked the earth. He was indeed God in the flesh, the Son of God, who came as the Christ to give His life to atone for the sins of mankind. And He has been resurrected to be the Savior of the world. All of this is true. And— although it is extremely necessary—none of this is the sole focus of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It was only Jesus was resurrected that He added this element to the message the apostles were to preach after.... (pp. 9-10.)With an attitude like that it is little wonder that the COGs tend to not focus on Jesus but are more fixated on dire predictions that catastrophes will soon occur before Christ's return.
Pages 11-12 contains an insert in which Meredith exploits I Corinthians 15 to discredit the mainstream churches by insisting that they should place more emphasis upon Christ's return and the Millennium.
Pages 13-14 contains an insert in which Meredith seeks to explain away a passage of Acts 10 to insist that believing in Jesus is not the gospel.
Meredith cites some varying interpretations of what the gospel is to insinuate that they are not worth listening to. Because some of them do not fixate on the coming of a kingdom to soon arrive on the Earth after Christ's return it is insisted that they must be false Christians.
Too many in this deceived world think of Christ as either “the little Lord Jesus, away in a manger” or as a frail weakling nailed to a cross. They do not contemplate His role as a coming, omnipotent Ruler and King. (p. 18.)Meredith cites Daniel 2, a chapter that has often been the fixation of Adventists from the 1830s onward. (pp. 18-22.)
Meredith expresses vehement disagreement and even contempt with those who do not share his literalist interpretation of Daniel 2.
Did this dream mean something? Yes, because God had inspired this one! It was prophetic. However, some people think that Bible prophecy is just melodic poetry—serving no guiding, foretelling purpose. Others think that prophecy does indeed have meaning but that we cannot possibly decipher what that meaning is—at least not until after its fulfillment and often not even then. There are still others who subscribe to the idea that prophetic meaning is subject to personal interpretation. (p. 19.)
Did you catch that? God is speaking here of literal kingdoms—a succession of world-ruling governments. This is clearly not talking about syrupy, sentimental concepts. God is making the Truth plain! (p. 20.)Meredith insists that his understanding of these things is not some private interpretation but the true way to understand the Bible.
We must never try to interpret the Bible by reading our ideas into it! And we must NOT believe the personal interpretation of other human beings. We must deeply study the Bible—comparing Scripture with Scripture. We must let the Bible interpret itself. (p. 20.)The Kingdom is only to arrive on Earth after the second coming.
A statue depicting a man beating his sword into a plowshare stands outside the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City—but a quick look at the TV or newspapers will show you that the United Nations has not fulfilled this wonderful prophecy of nations not learning war anymore! (p. 23.)Meredith insists that his readers have not heard this message because those in power do not like this message.
Why haven’t we been hearing that kind of Gospel in today’s world? You probably know why. This message is extremely unpopular with most of the religious, political and social leaders in today’s power structures. They don’t want to lose their power! This was one of the reasons the chief priests and the Pharisees sought to kill Jesus (John 11:47-53). Nevertheless, there WILL be a real “new world order” established under Jesus Christ’s leadership, totally changing this world’s political and religious institutions. (p. 24.)This passage reveals that this booklet is aimed at those unfamiliar with Adventist ideas about Christ establishing paradise on Earth after the second coming.
But what if one wishes to respectfully disagree? Meredith does not allow this by insinuating that those who disagree with him are deceived by Satan the Devil.
Will you believe what God says, or will you swallow the “philosophical concoctions” brewed up by disobedient, sinful men who have been DECEIVED by Satan the Devil, the “god” of this world ... ? (p. 24.)After this Meredith has to explain away various Scriptures that could be used to object to his Adventist teaching. (pp. 25-28.)
Meredith uses a parable to insist that those who follow him will be able to rule over several cities after Christ's return.
“Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities’” (vv. 17-19). Wow! Those who overcome in their Christian lives will be given authority and rulership in the Kingdom of God. How exciting to have an opportunity to serve others and teach them God’s ways! (p. 29.)Meredith once again expresses his contempt for those who disagree with them and who hope to be with God in heaven after death.
This amazing Good News is related in numerous other Scriptures. It is certainly not talking about the Church in this age. Nor is it talking about “rolling around heaven all day.” The book of Matthew does not call God’s Kingdom the “kingdom IN heaven.” It is the “kingdom OF heaven”—it comes down FROM heaven. (p. 29.)Is the United Kingdom OF Great Britain and Northern Ireland not IN Great Britain and Northern Ireland?
Meredith states the Kingdom of God is interpreted by Meredith to refer to something to happen after Christ's return.
The saints of God will possess the Kingdom AT THAT TIME—as glorified, immortal, divine beings! (p. 32.)This alludes to HWA and Meredith's God Family dogma.
Meredith insists that those who believe what he says will establish world peace.
An awesome future awaits God’s saints! They will be empowered to help bring genuine peace and joy to this suffering, bloody world. No more temporary, and often worthless, “Band- Aid” solutions! The immortal saints will assist Christ in enacting effective solutions and reforms for all humanity. Yes, they will join with Christ in RULING this world and straightening out the problems where the problems are —right here on earth. (p. 32.)Meredith insists a wonderful experience awaits those who believe his words.
We can be there after the prophesied last trumpet sounds and Christ returns as King of kings. “Behold, I tell you a mys- tery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52). As that final trumpet blast pierces the air and a world-rocking earthquake shakes the earth to its foundation (Rev. 11:13-15; 16:18), the faithful saints in Christ will no doubt experience a special thrill of joy as they rise to meet Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Then they will descend with Him to the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:11- 12; Zech. 14:3-4) to begin the job of bringing PEACE to a rebellious world. (p. 33.)Meredith asserts that his followers will be with the great personages of the Bible.
Under Jesus Christ’s authority, many of us may assist King David of Israel, the man after God’s own heart, who will be resurrected and given back his former job of leading the 12 tribes of the nations of Israel (Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 37:24). We will get to know Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the other faithful saints and servants of God from all generations. For then we will truly be “born of God”—born of the resurrection into God’s Family Kingdom. (p. 33.)Meredith asserts his followers will defeat the European dictator that Meredith has been insisting will soon conquer the United States.
God’s saints—the “overcomers”—will be given the opportunity, under Christ’s leadership, to deal with the tyrant who will bring humanity to the brink of annihilation.... (p. 33.)Meredith insists that the good news is not Jesus Christ dying on the Cross and being resurrected. It is the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth after the second coming.
Apostolic Christianity— biblical Christianity —teaches that the Kingdom of God will, at the end of this age, be set up as a literal government on this earth to bring genuine WORLD PEACE at last. That, indeed, is tremendous Good News! The Kingdom of God is the ruling Family of God which we can enter at the future resurrection from the dead. The true Gospel is astounding! (p. 35.)Pages 35-36 contain an insert in which Meredith insists that his followers will be transformed into God Beings when Christ returns. He insists that one is not born again at conversion or baptism but rather that it is merely a conception and one is not born again until Christ's return.
Pages 37-38 contains an insert in which Meredith explains away Colossians 1:13 to insist that his Adventist interpretation is correct.
So Meredith insists that the Gospel refers to the Millennium and afterwards, not Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. This implicitly condemns any church that happens to not teach this doctrine or places little emphasis on this teaching. But there are other churches that also have similar teachings about Christ's return. They may not insist that it alone is the Gospel but they have that idea.
The name of Jesus Christ is absolutely vital. Remember that the early apostles and evangelists preached it right along with the message about the coming Kingdom of God. We must have the same focus. However, we must be sure it is the true Christ we’re talking about.
Many today worship a false Jesus who supposedly did away with his Father’s commandments. He is often portrayed as an effeminate weakling with long hair and a haunting, far-off look in his eyes. They just praise his name and feel nice sentiments about him. (pp. 39-40.)Meredith then states that once one gets the Holy Spirit this empowers one to fulfill the commandments.
It is through Jesus Christ literally living His life within us that we are able to keep the Ten Commandments as a way of life. Do we keep the commandments perfectly? No. Nor do we do anything else perfectly! But we do surrender to Christ to let Him keep God’s law in us through the power of the Holy Spirit—and, to the extent we yield to Christ, we are able to more fully obey God’s law. Then we are told to continually “GROW in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). As we grow spiritually in our Christian lives, we should be keeping God’s law with increasing zeal and faith. (p. 44.)Meredith insists that a glorious wonder awaits those who follow him.
When the last trumpet sounds, those who have overcome and daily learned to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God” ... will feel themselves ascending in the air to meet Christ. Can you imagine the surge of exhilaration and ecstasy the saints will have at knowing that they are now members of God’s Family? At long last, they will have finally overcome all obstacles to achieve their ultimate destiny—a destiny for which all of us were created! As we hurtle skyward to join Christ in the air, we will realize that we are forever part of the divine level of existence—members of God’s Family. (p. 47.)The main narrative of this booklet ends with the following words.
Terrible events are sharply increasing in the world today. In one way, even that is Good News because it means that God’s Kingdom is drawing nearer. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). You are witnessing this Gospel being preached, even as you read this book- let! Also, the fact that Christ said “THIS gospel” in the middle of Matthew 24 proves that the Gospel does indeed include the prophetic events preceding the arrival of His Kingdom. It is Good News because God will be administering the only kind of medicine that will work on stubborn, carnal humanity: a forcible takeover of the planet—a divine coup d’état!
Many world leaders, leading scientists and other brilliant men believe that a one-world government is the only way to prevent humanity from destroying itself. Yet everyone knows that humanity could never do this in a cooperative and right way. Only God could do it correctly. And, make no mistake, God WILL DO IT. Then world peace will finally be ours. What fantastic Good News that is!Pages 49-50 contains an insert in which Meredith insists that his followers must observe the law but that law keeping itself does not save even though he insists that it is necessary.
So when you hear people preaching about the wonderful “Gospel,” you had better make sure they aren’t just talking about the first phase of the Christian life—our forgiveness from past sins through Jesus’ blood—because the true Gospel goes far beyond that. It goes far beyond what most people understand or comprehend. Yet the ultimate Good News is absolutely transcendent in its implications. It challenges you toward a glorious life of active service in the Kingdom of God throughout Christ’s soon-coming reign on this earth and on into eternity over the vast universe! This is the full GOOD NEWS. This is the real Gospel of Jesus Christ! (p. 48.)