Mr. Armstrong understood that one with God’s Spirit needs to be connected to the Vine, and that occurs only when in the one, unified, undivided Body of Christ.
“There are many individual and separate ‘Groups’ differing in belief and organization, yet supposing they are a PART of the BODY OF CHRIST. Are they?”
“Some have left God’s Church saying, ‘I have not left Christ—I’ve only left that organization. I worship Christ in my own way.’”
“Will these ‘loner’ individual ‘Christians,’ or these many little isolated ‘groups’ constitute part of the wife made ready?”
“The very eternal life and death question right now is: ‘Just what is the wife that has made herself ready? Is it one united, organized, compacted, Spiritual organism—all speaking the same thing—all joined to the one Vine and bearing fruit—all in the organized Church built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone, having grown into a building—a Holy temple, in the Lord, fitly framed together and compacted in that which every joint supplieth? or, will it be a conglomeration of disunited ‘groups’ and denominations and a number of isolated individual ‘Christians,’ who have followed Christ in their own way?”
“Again, ‘He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth’ (Luke 11:23). Those not with Christ, WHERE HE LEADS in his church, are scattering and against Him.
“But consider further:
“Jesus Christ is going to marry god’s church—called the body of christ. Now is that Body united, organized on a united and firm foundation, or an assortment of ‘loner’ individuals and various ‘groups’?”
“The only purpose of the Church is to carry on the work which christ started! It is now the body in which the Holy Spirit is working. And God set in the Church, to organize it, apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers.
“The church is the body of christ. And Jesus pictured Himself as the vine, and we of His Church are the branches on that vine. Notice it—study it—in John 15. Jesus is not several separated vines—He is one vine! The members of the body of christ are the branches!—but not separated, isolated branches. all are joined to the one vine—the body of christ.
“Separated ‘Christians,’ or ‘groups’ are branches broken off from the vine—the body of christ! (“Is God’s Church Composed of Many Separate ‘Groups’?” The Good News, Dec. 18, 1978).
The Restored Church of God agrees with Mr. Armstrong about branches cut off from the Vine, because Mr. Armstrong agrees with the Bible.
Next, Mr. Armstrong talks about how a person with God’s Spirit can temporarily exist outside the Body of Christ. This includes a few who are converted—given God’s Spirit at a baptism—outside the true Church. But notice what must eventually happen.
“Can one who does not know of the true organized Body doing God’s Work, and therefore is outside of it, be a member of the true Church which Christ built? The answer is yes—for it is possible for one to have truly repented, believed, and received God’s Spirit—and be following that Spirit as far as he sees and understands—who does not know of the organized Work Christ is using today. But surely God’s Spirit in him would lead one, in due time, into his part in the organized Body the living Christ is directing.”
“The answer is yes—I have known of a few. But in every case, either they came into the organized spiritual organism Christ is using in the real Work of God—or, when their eyes were opened to further light and truth, they rejected it and lost the Spirit of God. And this was amply demonstrated by the fruits” (“Just What Is the Church?” Tomorrow’s World, July-Aug. 1970).
We always understood that a person who had been disfellowshipped was outside the Body of Christ, yet still had God’s Spirit—that is, unless he or she remained outside for too long and eventually lost it. Every minister would know from the past that there were those who were disfellowshipped and eventually brought back to the Church. Others left of their own accord and came back. These could have been out of the Church for months or years. In almost every case, these were not re-baptized. They simply returned before they lost God’s Spirit. Once they came to repentance, they reconnected to the Vine and began growing again.
Obviously then, it is very much possible to have God’s Spirit and be outside the Body of Christ. But that does not mean that wherever such people are found is also where the Body of Christ—the one true Church—is located. God’s people can be scattered in different groups, but they are outside the Body of Christ, and need to reconnect to the Vine at some point.
I urge you to read The True Church – One Organization, or Many? for a thorough explanation, including many quotes from Mr. Armstrong, on what the Church is and is not. But before doing so, reread the quotes in this post from Mr. Armstrong and BELIEVE THEM instead of the liars in the pulpits before you who tell you the opposite because they bought into what the apostates brought to them from Billy Graham and other Protestants.