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Co-Worker Letter – January 10, 1986

Did Mr Armstrong write “the greatest work lies yet ahead” when he knew he was about to die?

A number of people try and quote Mr Armstrong in this his last coworker letter (below) to prove that an even greater work than Mr Armstrong's should be our focus today. They particularly refer to the phrase "the greatest work lies yet ahead" found in that letter. However such phrases do not seem to fit with some of Mr Armstrong's other comments - about how he was the one given the job to reach the world with the gospel as a witness, and that this job had been accomplished, leaving the current job predominantly to get the Church - the Bride - ready.

We had heard on a number of occasions, that this final coworker letter in 1986 was not written by Mr Armstrong - but by his aid, Mr Aaron Dean. Someone therefore wrote to the Church Mr Dean attends, and asked if he would comment on this. Here is the question and his reply:


I have heard from various sources that Mr. Aaron Dean more or less wrote the last co-worker letter that was published before Mr. Armstrong died. Could he please comment on this. Thank you.

Reply from Mr Aaron Dean

I recently answered this to someone who made a comment on a forum ... Obviously there was a lot going on the last few years of HWA's life, and I helped him with many things. He was too weak to write this one himself. I knew he was going to die, and this needed to go out before his death…

(the forum reply....)

Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2005 8:15 PM
Subject: Re: "The greatest work lies yet ahead."

FYI, the simple answer is I did write his last letter for him – in his style of course. He was too weak to even dictate. I did read it to him however, and told him it wouldn't go out unless I knew he understood it. He squeezed my hand, and added a couple words, so I knew he got it. It was the truth as I knew it, and I felt we needed a send off more than "I did the work, so hang on till Christ comes". He really felt he had done the commission and that the purification of the bride was to be next. He didn't expect a great work to continue, but I felt we needed a bit more encouragement as as send off for the next phase of what God would do.

I had asked if he could prove from scripture that that part of the work had been done, and he replied, "no", so even though he strongly felt this, it would have been a let down not to try to be positive in light of the sorrow of his death. Personally, I think God is preparing the bride (what HWA said would be next but didn't know how) through all these tests. We have had to individually account for what we believe, and see if Jesus Christ is our head, or a man or group of men. Salvation does not come from being in the 'right' corporation, but by our individual relationship with God. HWA always made the distinction, and I should have caught it as we worked those years, but WCG and the church always seemed one and the same while he was alive. We have grown, painfully at times, although some sadly want people to believe "their corporation" is the only way to the place of safety, and others, at best, will make it only by going through the tribulation. This is probably the greatest danger to members of the spiritual body, judging based on who you attend with.

Anyway, FYI. I always wince a little when people make this "the greatest work lies just ahead..." out to be his last wishes for the church. I didn't even say anything about me writing this until years later when others started misusing it to their own ends. We should do all we can, but it was simply for encouragement to help continue

Aaron Dean

Other Material that supports the above:

Notice these co-worker letters, showing this thinking, written just a few months before:

Also notice the following quotes from Mystery of the Ages, where Mr Armstrong saw himself as having been specifically used to fulfil Matt 24:14:

page 157/158:

“At last the weapons of mass destruction have been invented and produced that can erase all life from this planet earth. In these last days of mankind's last gasping of breath, Jesus foretold how it would all end. After Jesus’ gospel had been suppressed, replaced with a false gospel of men about a different Jesus, he said, ‘This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end of this world come.’ This gospel now has been preached into every nation.

page 291:

“It is revealed in Malachi 3:1-5 and 4:5-6 that God would raise up one in the power and spirit of Elijah, shortly prior to the Second Coming of Christ. In Matthew 17:11 Jesus said, even after John the Baptist had completed his mission, that this prophesied Elijah ‘truly shall first come, and restore all things.’ Although it is plainly revealed that John the Baptist had come in the power and spirit of Elijah, he did not restore anything. The human leader to be raised up somewhat shortly prior to Christ’s Second Coming was to prepare the way – prepare the Church – for Christ's coming, and restore the truth that had been lost through the preceding eras of the Church. Also a door was to be opened for this leader and/or the Philadelphia era of the Church to fulfil Matthew 24:14: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.’

It was to be at a time when, for the first time in the history of mankind, the weapons of mass destruction were produced that could erase all humanity from the earth (Matt. 24:21-22). This also was to occur just before the Second Coming of Christ (verses 29-30).

These prophecies have now definitely been fulfilled. The true gospel has been restored and has now gone in power into every nation on the face of the earth.



January 10, 1986

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers,

This is my first letter to you in 1986, and could very well be my last. Now in my 94th year I am in a very physically weakened state enduring severe pain and with virtually no strength whatsoever. I briefly described my condition in last month’s co-worker letter to you, and now it has worsened. It may be that the Work God has given me to do is complete, but not the Work of God’s Church, which will be faithfully doing God’s Work till Christ, the True Head of this Church, returns.

After much counsel and prayer over the past months God has led me in announcing a decision last week to appoint Mr. Joseph W. Tkach, director of Church Administration, to the office of Deputy Pastor General, to assist me while I am in a weakened state, and should God choose to take my life, to place himself totally in Christ’s hands to lead God’s Church under Christ, succeeding me as Pastor General, in the difficult times ahead. Christ will lead in the decision about which men will continue the telecast.

Remember, brethren, this is not the work of Herbert W. Armstrong, nor will it be the work of Mr. Tkach, or any man. It is the Work of the Living Creator, God. You are supporting this Work of God, and it is the Great God who will pour out His blessings on you for your generosity. Continue to sacrifice through 1986 to finish the commission God has given his Church. The greatest work lies yet ahead. Christ confirmed that in John 4:35, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” Never before in the history of the Church has it been possible to reap so great a harvest. It has only been made possible through modern technology, beginning with the printing press, radio, television, and rapid mass transit and mass communication. I personally have seen nearly all of these technological advances in my lifetime, starting in the last century through the horse and buggy age to the current space age.

It was prophesied in Daniel 12 that in the last days knowledge would be increased. This has been fulfilled, yet with this awesome progress we are experiencing even more appalling and continuous evils, which will culminate in the Great Tribulation ahead of us now. Then, just before humanity blasts human life off this planet, God will once again send his Son Jesus Christ. This time in power and glory as King of kings and Lord of lords to rule with all the power of the Great God and usher in utopian peace, happiness and prosperity. Thank God Satan will then be gone.

Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ? Will you escape the Great Tribulation soon to occur? Christ said to watch and pray always, that you will be accounted worthy to escape (Luke 21:36). Now is the time of the end.

Each of you must commit yourself to support God’s Work, to fast and pray. God’s Work must push ahead this coming year as never before. God is opening new doors in television and in the PLAIN TRUTH distribution. Help us walk through them. Praise and thank God, and pray for his Work. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for your prayers for me personally.

In deep gratitude and love, in Jesus’ name,

Herbert W. Armstrong