Death of Herbert W. Armstrong - Announced by Joseph W. Tkach - January 16, 1986
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ, I am deeply saddened to have to inform you that Herbert W. Armstrong's illness has ended in the manner least expected by all of us. Mr. Armstrong died peacefully in his sleep at 5:59 this morning while resting in the favorite chair of his late wife Mrs. Loma Armstrong. In the next second of his consciousness he will awake in the first resurrection, completely healed, not in the corruptible body of this mortal flesh, but as an immortal spirit-composed body, in glory in God's eternal kingdom! Through the years, we have learned that God's promises are absolutely sure — but not always in the way we expect. Because His ways are not our ways. God says to us, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8-9). God has promised to heal the sick, upon real repentance and faith. But God has not promised how, or when. That we must leave to Him in faith. The Eternal God, in His infinite mercy and wisdom, faithfully answered our prayers in the way He chose, rather than the way we would have chosen. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" (Psalm 116:15). God is faithful. He is merciful, compassionate and loving. Herbert W. Armstrong is merely awaiting the day of his change, along with the other thousands and thousands of God's saints, into immortal, glorious spirit-life, born into the very Family of God at the soon coming return of Jesus Christ. God granted Mr. Armstrong 93½ dynamic years, the last 53 of which were fully immersed in doing the work of God, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God to a world blinded by the deception of the god of this world, Satan the devil (Revelation 12:9). Even in the last year of his life, with declining strength, he completed with God's help, his most powerful and effective book "Mystery of the Ages". This after half a century of articles, letters, booklets, books, sermons and broadcasts, preaching and teaching the truth of God's Word, of His plan for mankind, of the glorious and radiant future that is the ultimate destiny of humanity. We don't know what trials lie yet ahead of us in completing God's work of proclaiming the gospel to the world. Perhaps God saw fit, as He describes in Isaiah 57:1, to spare Mr. Armstrong, at his advanced age, from the persecutions and trials prophesied to come as we finish the work of God for this age. Indeed, as Mr. Armstrong wrote in his final letter to you, "The greatest work lies yet ahead ... Never before in the history of the Church has it been possible to reap so great a harvest." Now look at Revelation 3:10-11. Jesus tells us, "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown." Let us persevere. Let us carry on, redoubling our efforts to draw closer to God in prayer and Bible study, fasting often, and striving to overcome, as well as putting our hearts into doing the work of God! As Mr. Armstrong so often stated, "When our ways please God, He will bless us." I am reminded of Loma D. Armstrong's admonition to several Headquarters ministers at her bedside just before her death nearly 19 years ago. She said, "Well, go on now, all you men, and do your work. I'll be all right." Herbert W. Armstrong has given us the same admonition so many times. As he would say, "Go! Carry on with God's work. Never slacken! Never let down!" The greatest tribute we can give Mr. Armstrong is to do the work we've been called to. He often pointed us to his mother's favorite verse in the Bible, Psalm 133:1, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." We do need that unity now as never before. Jesus Christ, the Head of His Church, has PROMISED us that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)! We must make sure we do not leave or forsake Him, but remain steadfast in His calling, working together in unity and harmony, led always by His Spirit! Pray especially fervently for God's Church at this critical time, and for one another. And please pray for me and the other men here in Pasadena. We need your prayers, and our daily prayers are with you. Let us carry on in FAITH. There is much yet to do!
January 19, 1986
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers, Armstrong mentioned that decisions would be made about which men would continue the World Tomorrow telecast. He had already discussed with me at length several preliminary ideas. Mr. Armstrong knew, and we know, that no one can "replace" him or duplicate his unique style. But as he pointed out to me in our discussions about the telecast, the work of God's Church is not done by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:6)! Jesus Christ will give His ministers the POWER to preach HIS TRUE GOSPEL — the gospel of the soon-coming kingdom of God! The message of God's Church has NEVER changed! And it never will! The World Tomorrow telecast will continue to boldly announce Christ's own gospel — the gospel He Himself preached. I believe God has led me in selecting, for now, three men who will begin immediately recording new programs in our own television studio here in Pasadena. All of these three men are dedicated, humble ministers of Jesus Christ, who have shown themselves to be yielded to Him as faithful servants. I'd like to introduce them to you now, so that you can begin praying for them, asking God to empower them and lead them WITH HIS SPIRIT, and to bless these programs with abundant fruit! First, Mr. David Hulme, a pastor rank minister, 17 years serving God's Work, and currently Director of Media Purchasing. Next, Mr. Richard Ames, an evangelist rank minister, who has served God's Work for 23 years, and is currently Director of Admissions and a Professor of Theology at Ambassador College. Also, Dr. David Albert, of pastor rank, serving for 26 years and now Director of Career Counseling and Professor of Psychology at Ambassador College. I call upon each of you brethren and co-workers to join me in heartfelt prayer for these three men — and their wives — in their additional responsibilities now with the World Tomorrow program. And pray that God will bless His Work financially at this critical time of transition. God will supply the POWER and grant his blessing for the EXCELLENT SUCCESS of these programs if we do our part — on our knees in diligent prayer throughout this coming year. I hope none of you will miss the January 26 telecast, which will be a special tribute to Mr. Armstrong, and will offer to the viewers a softbound copy of Mr. Armstrong's final and most important book, "Mystery of the Ages". Thank you for your earnest prayers for me, and for the many letters and cards of support and encouragement. I do need your prayers and I deeply appreciate them. And finally, thanks be to the GREAT GOD, by whose Spirit His work will be done!
From The Good News - May 1986 - "Passing the Baton"
Though God has chosen to take the life of Herbert W. Armstrong, the late human leader of God's Church, both the Church and the work of God continue unabated under the leadership of Joseph W. Tkach. Jesus said the gates of the grave would never prevail against God's Church (Matthew 16:18). The announcement of God's coming kingdom must still be made to all the world (Matthew 24:14). Disciples must still be made of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Jesus Christ, the living Head of the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23), is at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. He continues to actively lead and govern the Church through Mr. Armstrong's designated successor, Joseph W. Tkach. Mr. Armstrong termed his appointment of Mr. Tkach "the passing of the baton." It's interesting how a baton is passed. It is not passed to end a race, but to continue a race, with a temporary readjustment as the baton is handed from one runner to the next. Once the baton is received by the next runner, there is a speeding up. That's what's going to happen in the work today! Re-adjusted, we're going to go on running, under the human leadership of Joseph W. Tkach, with the baton that was given to Mr. Armstrong before us, with the teachings God revealed through him, using what has already been accomplished, building on the foundation and continuing toward the finish line. A native of Chicago, Illinois, Mr. Tkach served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Following his military service, he studied industrial management, industrial safety and human factors in industry. In 1946, he was employed by a midwestern manufacturing corporation, where he began his management experience. Before he resigned to assume a full-time role in the ministry, Mr. Tkach was responsible for several hundred employees. He was once fired for keeping God's Sabbath, which falls on Saturday. "I was threatened if I didn't come in on that Sabbath for a special meeting that I would be fired," Mr. Tkach recalls. "Upon coming home from church services there was a telegram waiting for me stating that I was fired. "Monday morning I received a telephone call from the personnel manager saying, 'Management would like you to come in immediately, as fast as you can get here. I didn't know what to expect," says Mr. Tkach. "But after arriving at the plant, out in the parking lot there were over 200 people milling around on a wildcat strike because they heard I was fired. "You see, we serve a God who fights our battles for us. My job was given back to me." March 31, 1951, Mr. Tkach married Elaine Apostolos, a native of Chicago. Mr. and Mrs. Tkach have a son and two daughters. Mr. Tkach was baptized on March 1, 1957, in Chicago, Illinois, and began to assist the ministry in the Chicago churches. He was ordained a deacon January 7, 1961, and a local elder June 3, 1963. Mr. Tkach — now the Pastor General — helped establish churches in South Bend, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, Indiana; Rockford and Peoria, Illinois; Davenport, Iowa; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Cincinnati, Ohio; and St. Louis, Missouri. In 1966 Mr. Tkach entered Ambassador College, where he attended for three years before being assigned to serve in congregations in Southern California. In 1970 he began working in Ministerial Services. In 1974 he was raised in rank to preaching elder. Mr. Tkach was named director of Ministerial Services (now Church Administration) in July, 1979. That same year, Mr. Armstrong ordained Mr. Tkach an evangelist and named him associate pastor of the Pasadena Auditorium P.M. church, pastored by Mr. Armstrong. Mr. Tkach was also appointed by him in 1981 to the Advisory Council of Elders, an advisory body to the Pastor General. "He taught us the importance of why we were called," Mr. Tkach says, referring to Mr. Armstrong. "We are here to be trained. Now is not the time to throw up our hands and to quit. Now is the time to stand up and be counted to do God's work. Remember, this is our life. "So as the chapters are increased in the living book of Acts, there should be no gaps, but merely a marker of faithfulness to help us start building where Mr. Armstrong left off. This is the legacy that has been left to us, to carry on with the work. We have an awesome responsibility."
From "Good News Personal" by Joseph W. Tkach, Pastor General May 1986
Our Work Is Cut Out for Us
By now you all will have heard of the death of Herbert W. Armstrong on January 16, 1986. God's ways are higher than ours, and He sees what we are incapable of seeing. He knows our needs and He does take care of them, though not always in the way we might expect. I learned long ago, when my own father died in the faith, that although God does give us His faithful and unbreakable promise to heal, upon repentance and faith, He reserves the decision as to how and when. If indeed God does choose to allow the faithful to die, that death is not permanent, but only a temporary state of peaceful rest from the suffering of this present evil world, awaiting the redemption of our bodies into the glorious liberty of the sons of God! God mercifully granted us what Mr. Armstrong considered several additional years of his leadership. God used him powerfully to get the Church to a dedicated, concerted unity carrying out the purpose of our calling, the proclaiming of Christ's gospel of the soon-coming kingdom of God, and feeding the flock that is the body of Christ. I am personally, of course, deeply sobered and humbled by the responsibilities God has placed on my shoulders as Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God. The apostle Paul stated that he was the "least of the apostles" (I Corinthians 15:9). In another passage he said he was "less than the least of all the saints" (Ephesians 3:8). Like Paul, I am also the least of the brethren. Yet I know, as Paul did, that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Jesus Himself set us the example. He did not speak on His own authority. He spoke the words and did the works of His Father, who dwelt in Him (John 14:10). He and His Father were ONE! They were (and are) in perfect unity. That same godly unity must be the binding of God's Church. Our work is cut out for us. God has called us to unitedly and wholeheartedly carry on till Christ returns. We must make overcoming the priority. The time for this world's civilization is short. But there is much yet to do. As we submit to God, carefully and diligently seeking His will in our lives, and FORSAKING THE WAYS OF THIS WORLD, God will continue to bless His work. He will lead us, direct us, guide us. But we must follow his lead together, as ONE BODY. Jesus is not fragmented and never will be. After Jesus was crucified and buried, several of the disciples decided to go fishing — back to their old trade. Maybe they thought the work was over. But what they didn't realize was that the greatest work was yet ahead! Pray as never before — for God's people, for one another, for the work, and please pray for me. My prayers are with you. I deeply appreciate and love each one of you members and co-workers. Keep reading The Good News and The Plain Truth. They will continue to be what we believe are the finest magazines on earth. And keep growing spiritually. Will Christ find us doing His work when He returns? I intend to be. And I'm calling on all of you to stand with me in Christ's service, holding fast to the great commissions He has given us, enduring patiently and faithfully to the end.