Ask the Bible GuysBy C. Eldon McNabb
We recently received an inquiry from a Brother in Oaxaca, Mexico concerning the late prophet Grady R Kent, and the organization which he founded in 1957, and directed until his death in 1964. Shortly thereafter, another brother from Colorado sent us a similar request about our personal association with him and his ministry.
I take this liberty to write my testimony of my search for truth, and of my personal knowledge of the ministry of the Prophet: Bishop, Grady R. Kent, in the hope that you will better understand him, and his fulfilling of the volume of prophecy which our Father in Heaven gave him to fulfill.
If we are to understand the ministry of any prophet, who is a truly anointed leader of God's people, it is necessary that we understand his roll in the fulfillment of prophecy. That was true of John the Baptist, who was first in the lineage of the men who would ultimately fulfill all of the prophetic intent of the Old Testament, and the New (Matt. 11:9-15). Then Jesus fulfilled His volume (Luke 21:44), and Peter (Numbers 27:15-23 with John 21:15-23), and James the Lord's brother (Deut. 17:8-13 with Acts 15:13-21), and Paul (Isaiah 49:6 with Acts 13:47, and Col. 1:25). In the twentieth century, A. J. Tomlinson and Grady R. Kent ministered with the same testimony; fulfilling such prophecies as Psalm 132:1-7, and Eccl. 10:20.
John the Revelator clearly told us (Rev. 1:2; Rev. 12:7, and Rev. 19:10) that "The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy," and that all of God's prophets, unto the coming of Jesus, will have that same testimony.
When I was ten years of age, I was born again, and sanctified, in a Church of the Nazarene in Delano, California in July, 1945. I fell in love with God, and His word, which I have read and studied, avidly, from then, until today. I joined the Church of God, over which M. A. Tomlinson was General Overseer on March 19, 1950, in Earlimart, CA, and was baptized with the Holy Ghost that June. About two years later, they adopted the name Church of God of Prophecy.
I first heard Brother Kent teach, in Bible Training Camp (California), in 1952, and enjoyed his ministry at the State Convention which followed it. The following year, Brother Kent was not allowed to participate, the reasons for which I did not know altogether, but the fact caused me some consternation. As that drama continued to heat up, into 1956 and 1957, I was in the military, but was miraculously placed into a situation where I could hear some of both sides of the controversy concerning Bishop Kent
In 1956, as I went about my military duties, God began to do great things with me spiritually. One day, at lunch, I was prompted to study the twenty-nine teachings of our Church. As I studied the tenth teaching, I realized we were teaching "The Full Restoration of the Gifts to the Church" with some great degree of error. I did not know that the same "teaching" was causing much of Brother Kent's difficulty with his peers. Neither was I aware that Brother Kent had, for some time, been promoting that he was in the spirit and power of John (the Revelator) Zebedee.
In the early 1960s, I asked Bro. Kent, when he remembered beginning to understand and preach the book of "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." He thought a bit, and then told me he had begun to preach that revelation in 1934, about three years after he had been born again, in 1931. I think it is particularly significant that the physicist, Harold Clayton Urey, discovered "heavy water" in 1931 and received the Nobel prize for that discovery in 1934. The Book of Revelation is indeed some of the heaviest "water of the word."
At the General Assembly in 1956, Brother Kent presented a wonderful demonstration, as he preached about "The Bride: The Church." As he preached, he would occasionally turn to the General Overseer, and emphasized the importance of Brother Tomlinson's "Office." Two days later, during his Annual Address, Brother Milton forcefully denied that his office had any scriptural importance, saying, "I see no difference in myself and the Assembly." In so doing, he left "Moses' Seat" vacant, for God to fill.
Between that General Assembly, and February 1957, Milton Tomlinson pressured Brother Kent to quit preaching the things which he had been promoting, or resign. However, it was all God's doing, so that Bishop Kent would begin to establish "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" in a devout, and willing group of people.
At the General Assembly, in 1957, I had an unpleasant experience with the "Questions and Subjects Committee." However, they did give me an audience. The majority of those venerable men admitted that I was right about the "gifts of the Spirit," but refused to even allow the subject to be discussed in the forum of the Assembly. I walked out of that meeting with my "rose colored glasses" broken. It was evident that the Church of God of Prophecy was not "going to perfection, as God revealed more light."
Later that day, I went to see Brother Kent. I was well pleased with his intelligent and Biblical answers to my inquiries. Yet it took me until Assembly time, two years later, in 1959, to break loose from that group, and begin a most spiritually-gratifying four and a half years of working with that great prophet Grady R. Kent, until his death in the Spring of 1964. I never met a man more singularly dedicated to the service of the Lord, nor a man who I knew to be of greater integrity, or had greater moral character, than he.
In 1941, Brother Kent became a driving force behind the marking of Burger Mountain: Fields of the Wood in North Carolina, in fulfillment of Habakkuk 2:1-3 and Psalm 132:4-6. Then, in 1948, as he was preaching in one of the western states, a man attending one of his meetings heard him preach about the flying prophet, and he took the Bishop out, and bought him a brand new Cessna four-place airplane. Thus began the building of a gospel air force which he called the "White Angel Fleet. By 1957, he had developed that small beginning into a fleet of about one hundred airplanes, and over two hundred pilots, which was used almost exclusively for the spread of the word of God. This he did in fulfillment of Eccl. 10:20; Isaiah 60:8,9; Ezekiel 10, etc.
Brother Kent fulfilled prophecy in every move he made. One of those prophecies is in the allegory of Isaac's three wells (Churches; Songs 4:10-15), which are a prophecy of the three major divisions of the Churches of God, from 1903 through 1980. A. J. Tomlinson began the rise of God's Church in 1903, in the twentieth century, when he "dug out" what today is called the "Church of God." Then, in 1923, he began to "dig out" the "Church of God of Prophecy," which he led, until his death in 1943. In the process of that work, A. J. Tomlinson had a forty-year ministry of leadership in God's Church. That is a unique testimony in the times of the Gentiles, and positively validates his claim to being "God's Anointed. It also established the beginning of a "lineage of leadership," the next of which was Grady R. Kent. Brother Kent "dug out" the third church, which was called "The Church of God," which he led from February 1957, to March 1964.
In 1958, Brother Kent christened the first of his motorcycle corps: "Joel's Horsemen," in fulfillment of such Scriptures as Job 39:19 and Joel 2:1-5. That same year, he ordained eight men into the offices of "The Twelve Apostles." In 1960, he christened the automobile fleet: "Nahum's Chariots." Before the Assembly that year, he had ordained another three of The Twelve. Then, at the General Assembly, he ordained me one of The Twelve; making that number complete. Brother Kent's twelve fulfilled the allegory of the twelve sons of Nahor, Abraham's brother (Gen. 22). At a meeting in Asheville, NC, in May of 1963, the mighty power of God was manifested in a way which seemed to confirm Brother Kent's appointments. Brother Kent responded with joy and relief, saying, "I feel like I have my crop laid by." He was the only one of us who knew that he was going to die soon, having already gone to the funeral home, and made the arrangements for his funeral. He died March 31, 1964.
In 1964, when the so-called "Great Earthquake of Good Friday" began to shake Alaska, Bishop Kent went into a coma. About four days later, within an hour or so of the last tremor, he died. Many false, and absurd, statements were made concerning Brother Kent, and us, his ministers, at the time of his death. For instance, contrary to the promotion, by ministers in the Church of God of Prophecy, that we set the motorcycle beside his grave so he could get on it and ride off, when he arose after three days, we placed it there for no other reason, than that it should be a tribute to what he had achieved with it, by way of his "Highways and Hedges" gospel outreach. In contrast with these false reports, and expressions of contempt, by many, Milton Tomlinson made a noble gesture, worthy of his office, by attending Brother Kent's funeral.
Brother Kent's use of such things as cars and motorcycles was not, as some would say, just another "effort at grandstanding." He strongly believed the Word of God in Rom. 1:20, "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." Brother Kent used those things, by which to glorify the great God of all creation.
In the Spring of 1972, at the word of the Lord, I, and a few others, left that Church of God, in fulfillment of Isaac leaving the third well, which he had named "Rehoboth," Isaac went from there to Beer-sheba: the well of the covenant. We have maintained what we could of those activities which Brother Kent promoted, as part of our effort to keep alive the vision which he had, and to carry it forward, in what Jesus called "Meat in due season." We still thrill at the effect that it has upon those who are reached by that ministerial effort. We have found that a tastefully lettered car has a positive impact for Christ upon the community. It preaches all of the time, and reaches many which we could never reach any other way. A special thanks to Bro. Kent for that one.
At the dawn of 1960, the brethren began to boldly declare that Brother Kent was in the "spirit and power" of John (The Revelator) Zebedee, in fulfillment of Rev. 10:11; which indeed he was, just a surely as John the Baptist went forth, "in the spirit and power of Elijah," to prepare the way before Jesus; fulfilling a portion of Malachi 3:1, and Malachi 4:5,6 (Luke 1:17). And that was just to prepare for "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the World." The King is yet to come. God never changes, therefore, He must send a messenger to "go before" Jesus Christ the King, to purify a people for Jesus to present to Himself, when He comes. That messenger, will go before Him in the spirit and power of John the Revelator; as it is written, "Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" (Rev. 10:11).
Jesus said, "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things" (Matt. 17:11). Apparently John the Baptist did not accomplish that. Therefore, the spirit and power of Elijah is not quite finished, either. I believe, at Brother Kent's conversion, or shortly thereafter, the spirit and power of John the Revelator came upon him, to accomplish a portion of the prophecy which was given to John. The precept is given to us in the allegory of Elijah and Elisha. When Elijah was caught up, Elisha received a double portion of his spirit. Likewise, Grady R. Kent went forth in the spirit and power of John the Revelator. Now, just prior to the return of our Lord and King, another man must go before Jesus in the spirit and power of both Elijah and John (That is the fulfillment of the double portion). That man must direct the restoration of such things as "The Tabernacle of David, which is fallen down," as he makes the preparations for the arrival of our King.
After Brother Kent's death, two lesser men, each in his turn, undertook to sit as the "Chiefest" among us. Under their direction, all of Brother Kent's work, and vision, was reduced to nothing. Throughout the organization, belief in his message, and the things which he promoted was almost totally discarded. Marion W. Hall took the helm until March of 1972, then Robert S. Somerville directed the group until December 1980. I show in my book, "God's Church, Prophecy in Motion," that, after seventy-seven years, from 1903 to 1980, God's Church "died" in fulfillment of Ezekiel 21:25-27, and that we must now fulfill Ephesians 5:14-17, and "arise from the dead," to finish the work of the "Church."
God said, in Ezekiel 21, concerning the Church, "I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him." It was overturned in 1923, again 1957, and in 1972. At that time, the voice of a prophet ceased to be heard in it, until its complete loss of the spirit of the body in 1980. God is now ready to execute His plan which He prophesied of, in Malachi 3:16,17, saying, "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."
I believe that, years ago, God assigned an angel to begin to write the names, of qualified people, in that "Book of Remembrance," and that God has recently begun to choose from among the names which are written there, the ones with whom He will make up His Elect. Is your name written in God's "Book of Remembrance?"