Did you ever ask yourself:
Who am I? What am I? Why am I? You are a mystery. The world about you is a mystery.
Now you can understand!
HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG
I want to extend my gratitude to Aaron Dean, who collaborated in the writing and preparation of this book. Without him, since my near loss of eyesight, this book could not have been produced.
I would like to dedicate this book to the memory of my wife of 50 happy years, Loma Armstrong.
WHY DID I WRITE THIS BOOK? I have lived a long, active, interest-packed life covering the last eight and a half years of the 19th century and all of the twentieth to the present.
I have lived through the horse and buggy age, the automobile and industrial age, the air age, the nuclear age and now into the space age. I have seen America live through the agrarian age when farmers walked behind their horse-drawn ploughs singing happily, and into the urban age when Midwest American farmers are groaning and fighting for more government subsidies to prevent the extinction of farm life.
I have seen this twentieth century develop into a state of awesome advancement and achievement industrially and technologically.. Paradoxically, I have seen alarming escalation of appalling evils, crime and violence and the crucible of nuclear war develop to threaten the very extinction of the human race within the present living generation. These conditions and facts are indeed mysteries that have remained unsolved and now need to be explained.
I have traveled over the four quarters of this globe we call earth. I have rubbed shoulders with the rich and the very poor and those in between. I have visited with captains of industry, emperors, kings, presidents and prime ministers. I have rubbed shoulders with and come to know the totally illiterate and poverty- stricken poor. I have seen this world firsthand at close range as have only the very few.
And through this long and pulsating eventful life I have asked myself many questions that were deep mysteries to me, and remain unanswered and unexplained mysteries to the world as a whole.
When I was five, my father said I was going to be a Philadelphia lawyer when I grew up, because I was always asking so many questions about so many things. I wanted to UNDERSTAND. I craved UNDERSTANDING. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, desired wisdom, and God gave him wisdom above all others. After so many years I realize now that the same God had given me the UNDERSTANDING of life's deepest mysteries that remain an enigma in most minds.
How did all this happen? I was reared in a Protestant church until the age of 18, but I never heard these plaguing questions explained in church. If the Bible reveals the answers, why so many denominations of Christianity and so much dis agreement as to what the Bible says?
But who can understand the Bible? I certainly never had understood it. And even if one does, can one believe the Bible? Does it speak with any authority? That question puzzled me and is the mystery to be cleared up in this volume. How I came to understand began at age 34, in the year of 1926. But it only began there. The final crystal-clear reason that impelled me to write this book did not fully reveal itself to my mind until December of 1984. It was a mind-boggling realization--a pivotal truth--that will be made clear in this book.
The beginning of opening my mind to the truth covered in this book began in the summer of 1926.
I asked myself: Who am I? WHAT am I? WHY am I? I tried to reason out the answer, but I couldn't. It was a mystery. Then, that very autumn I was confronted with a mind-disturbing challenge on a biblical question and the theory of evolution. This resulted in opening my mind to amazing vistas and depths of knowledge and understanding.
It all started with the question of the theory of evolution and the religious question of Sunday observance.
I knew that the Bible was the world's number one selling book. Yet to me it had been an enigma. I could never understand it. I said, The Bible says, `Thou shalt observe Sunday.' I was asked how did I know? Had I read that in the Bible?
I answered that I knew because all the churches observe Sunday and I supposed the source of their teaching was the Bible.
But my marriage was at stake on the question. I was forced into an in-depth study and research into the Bible and also into the theory of evolution, which was at that time rapidly gaining acceptance in the field of higher education.
My in-depth study into the works of Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel, et al led me to question the authority of the Bible and even the existence of God.
These intellectual thinkers had become aware of the increasing knowledge about the universe. They could not square this expanding knowledge with the religious teaching of their time. My researches into the thinking of the founders of the evolutionary theory recalled to mind what I then read in the eighth chapter of Psalms-- how King David, a monarch of an ancient nation, looked at the stars in the sky, noted the expansion of the vast universe and began to think. He wondered in his mind, what was he? What was man--in the vast expansion of the endless universe? I found that this ancient king had never received the full answer to the questions that plagued his mind. But I was later to discover, in my same research, how the final answer was revealed to the apostle Paul and explained in the second chapter of the book of Hebrews. I was determined to find absolute proof of the existence of God and of the authority of the Bible, or to reject both. Most people, I realized, accept or reject a belief on careless assumption due to whatever they have heard, been taught, or assumed without proof. I wanted to understand. And I wanted to be sure on positive proof, not on careless assumption or wishful thinking.
After many months of virtually night-and-day intensive study, the answers were revealed to me with proof that was positive and absolute.
No longer was the existence of God taken carelessly for granted because I had always heard it or been taught it. I found absolute and positive proof of the existence of the Supreme Creator God and also of the absolute authority of the Holy Bible as the Word of God--the revealed message and knowledge of God for mankind.
I found the Bible to be a coded book, with answers to the paramount mysteries confronting all humanity.
The revelation of these mysteries was lost, even to the Church of God, although the revelation of them has been preserved in the writings of the Bible. Why, then, has the world not clearly understood? Because the Bible was a coded book, not intended to be understood until our day in this latter half of the twentieth century. I learned, in this night-and-day study, why it is the most misunderstood book, even though it is the world's best-seller. The full explanation or truth of any one subject is seldom made complete and clear in any one passage. Other portions, factors, or phases of the subject are usually contained in one or several other passages in other parts of the Bible either in the Old or New Testament. A true and full understanding of this subject is profitable only when these perhaps several other passages, scattered throughout the Bible, are put together.
Vistas of knowledge and understanding that have remained the chief mysteries of life to most people were opened to my astonished eyes and mind. But it is recorded in that book that in these very days in which our generation lives, the great mystery would be cleared. And indeed it was to my astonished mind.
I learned that the Bible is like a jigsaw puzzle--thousands of pieces that need putting together--and the pieces will fit together in only one way. Then the picture becomes crystal clear to the one willing to believe what God our Creator says.
This present book merely puts the many pieces of the great puzzle together so they can be clearly understood. As you read and reread this book, compare constantly with your own Bible. See these truths with your own eyes in your own Bible. And open your mind to God's leading you into his TRUTH as you do. It will make a lot of sense as nothing ever did before.
Time may prove this to be the most important book written in almost 1,900 years. Not because of literary excellence or flowery language of scholarship that it has purposely avoided, but because of its plainness of speech in clarifying the most important knowledge ever revealed from the supreme source of understanding of that which has mystified all humans since man first appeared on earth.
This world's humanity has been blinded to who, what and why man is--how man appeared on earth. Man has been mystified by his inability to solve his problems, or find answers to the perplexing questions of mankind and the world he inhabits.
All these mysteries were long ago revealed by the one supreme authority of all knowledge, but in a coded message not allowed to be revealed and decoded until our time.
The Church was infiltrated during the first century with another gospel. Many false teachings and false churches under the name of traditional Christianity arose. As God reveals in Revelation 12:9, the whole world has been deceived. These basic truths have been kept a mystery. Even sincere and well-meaning men among the clergy have received their teaching from other men as handed down traditionally in these churches. They have assumed these false teachings to be the true teachings of the Bible. Instead of putting the various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle properly and sensibly together, it has become the practice and custom to read an already-believed false teaching into each particular scripture, taken out of its context. In other words to interpret the scriptures to say what they have already been taught and come to believe. The Bible needs no interpretation because it interprets itself. This becomes clear when one sees the various scriptures of each subject properly put together, and the Bible itself says, here a little, and there a little (Isa. 28:10). Even the world of a professed traditional Christianity has been deceived.
I have often said it is much more difficult to unlearn an erroneous supposed truth than it is to learn a new truth. Even in these past 58 years I had not fully and clearly realized the significance of the fact revealed in Genesis 3:22-24--that, in fact, God had closed the Holy Spirit and eternal life to mankind in general until the removal of Satan at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Traditional Christian teaching had always assumed there is a contest between God and Satan--that God has been trying desperately to get the world saved, but in this great controversy Satan has been winning. In other words, God had sent Jesus Christ at his First Coming to try to win this ongoing war against Satan. Traditional Christianity has taught that whosoever will may come and be saved through Jesus.
For some years I had come to partially realize the error of this assumption, but the full truth on this point had not come crystal clear to me until very recently. This truth is indeed mind- boggling. It clears what had been clouded in mystery.
It is hoped that this book, written since God's time for it has come, will open many eyes to the truth of these long-hidden mysteries.
And now, in my 93rd year, I have been led to write this book before this event-packed life ends, to share with as many as care to know, the answers that the great supreme mind of God reveals in his Word--if one is only willing to understand that Word.
DID you ever ask yourself: Who am I? What am I? Why am I? The world about you is a mystery. You yourself are a mystery. You have never seen your brain, the seat of your intellect and all that you are.
Your life is engulfed in mysteries. On reflection, your very existence is a mystery. Did you simply happen by unintelligent resident earthly forces without meaning or purpose, or were you intelligently designed and created by an all-powerful God of supreme mind for a purpose that also has been hidden in mystery? In fact, the persistent tradition throughout human history about the Creator God has been such a mystery that higher education in the Western world has sought to erase the mystery by giving its virtually unanimous acceptance to the theory of evolution.
Diffusion of education did not begin among the human race until after the invention of printing in the 15th century. As education became more widespread--as intellectualism developed--as knowledge of astronomy expanded knowledge of the universe about us- -thinking minds began to ask questions. What of the whole vast universe? How did it all originate? Rational, scientifically oriented minds found themselves unable to explain the developing knowledge of an expanded universe with the teaching of religion as they knew it through the Roman Catholic Church and Protestantism, which had dominated the thinking of the Western world. The teaching of a long-haired, semi-effeminate picture of Jesus and the concept of a God composed of invisible spirit was not intellectually satisfying to them. It was all a colossal mystery. In the vanity of their self-professed scholarly minds they tried to evade the mystery entirely on the basis of materialism. They appeased their curiosity by attempting to work out a solution to the mystery of origins, existence, and life by reasoning out a self-satisfying, materialistic explanation.
Gradually the theory of evolution evolved in thinking, yet ignorant, minds filled with intellectual vanity. This thinking evolved into the theory of use and disuse by de Lamarck. On the heels of de Lamarck's theory came Charles Darwin with his theory of the survival of the fittest. Actually Darwin died unsure of his own theory. However, two colleagues, Haeckel and Huxley, fought vigorously to promote the Darwinian theory into public acceptance.
But were created human minds of intellectual vanity, who created a theory, more all-knowing than the supreme mind that created them? The evolutionary theory has been invented by human minds in an effort to explain the presence of a creation without the preexistence of a divine Creator.
And if the all-powerful God was your Maker, and exists as the divine Creator of all that is, then the mystery about God emerges, in order of time sequence, as the first and paramount mystery of all.
Who and what is God? That is a mystery not understood by any religion, not explained by science, untaught by higher education. The intellectually vain originators of the evolutionary theory found the existence of God, as presented by religion, a mystery they could neither understand nor accept. But the religionists whom they rejected did not themselves understand the mystery of God. Yet God does reveal himself through his Word the Holy Bible, if these religionists would only believe God's own revelation. God reveals himself in his Word the Holy Bible, yet almost none has understood it. The Bible, as author Bruce Barton said, is the book that nobody knows. The Bible itself is the basic mystery that reveals all other mysteries.
If the truth about God is mystery number one revealed in the Bible, assuredly the truth about angels and evil spirits is second in order. Is the existence of spirit beings fact or a myth? Is there, after all, a devil? Did God create a devil? If there are holy angels, what is their purpose and function? The Bible clearly states that this world is actually ruled by unseen principalities of evil spirits. Do evil spirits affect and influence humans and even governments today? Do evil spirits affect even your own life? This question seems enveloped in total mystery.
Certainly third in order is the mystery of your own life--of humanity as a whole. What and why is humanity? Is man an immortal soul? Do the dead know what the living are doing? Is man a flesh and blood being with an immortal soul within? Is there meaning and purpose to human life? Did we evolve through unintelligent material forces without meaning or purpose? Why are humans beset with seemingly unsolvable problems?
Fourth in line of the not-understood mysteries is the civilization that has developed in man's world. How did it develop? Why do we find a world of awesome advancement and progress, yet paradoxically with appalling and mounting evils? Why cannot the minds that develop spacecraft, computers and marvels of science, technology and industry solve the problems that demonstrate human helplessness?
Next, in the development of human society on earth, is the mystery of the Jew and the ancient nation of Israel. Are the Jews the ancient nation of Israel? Why did God raise up one special nation? Why are they God's chosen people? Are they God's favorites? Does God discriminate against other nations? Is God a respecter of persons? What is Israel's purpose in the divine order of things?
Come now to the mystery of the Church. Why should there be the institution of the Church in the world? Is there some purpose for it, not understood even by the religion of traditional Christianity? Is the Church one Christ-originated Church or does it consist of many differing sects and denomination? Is the Church well organized on a definite pattern originated by Christ? Is there government and authority in the Church? Is it a large universal Church of many millions of members or a small and persecuted Church? How could one recognize the true Church today?
Finally, why the mystery of the kingdom of God? Jesus' gospel message was the kingdom of God. Is the kingdom of God something within each person? Is it something that may be set up in men's hearts? Is it the institution of the church? Or is it something else altogether? Why this mystery of the very gospel of Jesus Christ?
These are the SEVEN GREAT
that concern the very lives of every human being on earth. The PLAIN TRUTH of all these mysteries is revealed in the Bible, but none of the churches or theologians seem to have comprehended them.
WHY? The Bible is the basic mystery of all.
If one begins reading the Bible continuously from beginning to end, one becomes bewildered. The Bible simply cannot be read like any other book. It is a mystery because it is a coded book. It is like a jigsaw puzzle, with perhaps thousands of various pieces of different forms and shapes that can be fitted together in only one precise pattern. The truths of the Bible are revealed here a little, there a little, scattered from beginning to end, and revealed .only through the Holy Spirit within those surrendered and yielded to God, willing to have confessed error and wrongdoing, and yielding to BELIEVE Christ the Word of God. Jesus was the Word in Person. The Bible is the same Word in print.
No one can have the Holy Spirit, which alone can open the human mind to understanding of this Word of God, without a complete repentance and an implicit belief in Christ as well as believing what he says. Repentance can only follow admission of being wrong-- of wrongdoing and wrong believing. The most difficult thing for any human seems to be to admit being wrong--to confess error of belief and conviction--to unlearn false knowledge as well as to learn true knowledge.
Is it any wonder, then, that the Bible is the book that nobody knows or understands?--or certainly almost nobody.
God deliberately coded his book so that it would not be understood until our modern time. Why was this purposely done? Even that is a mystery. The pages that follow will explain.
In the 12th chapter of Daniel we read even that devout man of God could not understand that which was given to him to write as part of the Bible. He said he heard, but understood not. The revealing angel said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end (Authorized Version).
Today we have reached that time. God has opened to understanding his Word to those he has chosen, who have yielded and surrendered to him and to his blessed sacred Word. In the 12th chapter of Daniel, it says at this time of the end the wise would understand, but none of the wicked shall understand. Who, then, are the wise who may understand the Bible?
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10) and a good understanding have all they that do his commandments (same verse). Yet traditional Christianity has generally denied God's commandments--says they are done away, nailed to the cross. The clergy and theologians of organized Christianity, therefore, cannot and do not understand the Holy Bible.
How, then, can we, in this book, understand and reveal to the reader these boggling mysteries? That question will be answered in the Introduction to follow.
How the Seven
Mysteries Were Revealed
THE WORLD'S NUMBER ONE concern today is the question of human survival! Science and technology have produced the weapons of mass destruction that could blast all human life off this earth!
So many nations now possess nuclear weapons that one madman could ignite the nuclear World War III that could erase all human life from this planet.
Yet the truth of God, if known and acted on, could have saved humanity from this threat and all its evils!
Stop a moment.
THINK on this.
You live in a world seemingly far advanced in science, technology, higher education and diffusion of knowledge. People think it's a world of GREAT PROGRESS. We send men to cavort about on the moon and return them safely back to earth. Unmanned spacecraft land on Mars and send back to earth close-up photographs of the Martian surface. Other unmanned spacecraft fly close to Jupiter and send back astonishing pictures of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. Surgeons transplant human hearts and other organs.
It's a magic, entrancing push-button world where work is done largely by machines. It's the glamour dreamworld of the three L's--leisure, luxury and license.
But paradoxically, it's also a world of IGNORANCE! Even the educated know not how to solve their problems and the world's evils. They know not the way of PEACE or the TRUE VALUES of life!
About one half of the world's population is still illiterate, in the grip of abject poverty, living in filth and squalor. The grim reapers of starvation and disease take human lives by the millions.
It's an unhappy, restless world in frustration, staring a hopeless future in the face. It's a world ridden with escalating crime and violence, immorality, injustice (even in its courts of law), dishonesty, corruption in government and business, and continual wars, pointing now to the final nuclear World War III.
WHY this paradox of PROGRESS amid DEGENERATION?
God's Truth Would Have Solved!
True religion--God's truth empowered with the love of God imparted by the Holy Spirit--would have pointed the way, and led to happiness, abundance and eternal salvation.
When you see what's wrong with the world's religions, you'll have pinpointed the cause of all world evils!
What is religion? It is defined as the worship of, and service to, God or the supernatural. It is man's relation to his Creator. Some religions have perverted that definition. They worship not the God who created them, but gods which they have created. Religion involves one's conduct, one's principles, one's way of life and one's concept of the hereafter.
The real CAUSES of all this
world's religious confusion--and all its evils--are revealed in
SEVEN BASIC MYSTERIES
that decry this babylon of religious confusion and the resulting world chaos!
But now God's time has come! He now sends a voice to cry out with amplified world-covering power to reveal the way out of this senseless madness, into the world of PEACE and righteousness that soon shall grip the earth!
In the book of Isaiah is a NOW prophecy:
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord....lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say... Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him (Isa. 40:3, 9-10).
That voice now cries out!
The prophet Malachi confirmed this:
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts (Mal. 3:1).
The Elijah to Come
Both of these prophecies have a dual application. First, they refer to John the Baptist, who prepared the way before Jesus' human ministry more than 1,900 years ago. But, as a prototype, or forerunner, these prophecies foretell one to prepare the way before Christ's Second Coming as the King of kings and Lord of lords to RULE over ALL NATIONS!
Malachi's prophecy, like Isaiah's,
if you will read on past the first verse, refers to a human
messenger preparing the way before Christ's now imminent Second
Coming, this time in supreme POWER AND GLORY
as Ruler over all nations!
Understand the duality principle here. These prophecies refer to a type and its fulfillment.
John the Baptist was a voice crying out in the physical wilderness of the Jordan River area, preparing for the human physical Jesus' First Coming to a material temple at Jerusalem, to a physical Judah. But that was a prototype, or forerunner of a voice lifted up (greatly amplified by modern printing, radio and TV), crying out in the midst of today's spiritual wilderness of religious confusion, announcing the imminency of Christ's Second Coming as the spiritually GLORIFIED Christ, to his spiritual temple (the Church resurrected to spirit immortality) (Eph. 2:21-22).
Jesus came, over 1,900 years ago, to announce the FUTURE kingdom of God. He's coming this time to ESTABLISH that kingdom. That end-time last warning message is now going out worldwide in amplified power.
It's going before kings, emperors, presidents, prime ministers of nations--and to their peoples, on all continents and all nations of the earth!
How in this age of religious confusion could one come to know these seven basic mysteries of the ages that decry this world- gripping conglomeration of beliefs?
Why, in general, are people in Thailand Buddhist; those in Italy, France and Spain Catholic; those in the Arab world Islamic? Primarily, of course, because they and those around them grew up being taught, and automatically accepting, those faiths. To expect one of them to discover the TRUTH (hidden from them and also contrary to the teachings of childhood and adulthood that engulfed them) would seem to be expecting the impossible.
Why do most people believe the things they believe? Few, indeed, ever stop to ask themselves in retrospect how they came to accept the beliefs that have found lodgment in their minds.
The Source of TRUTH
You probably have seen pictures of the statue The Thinker. A man sitting alone, leaning forward, elbows on his knees, his hand supporting his head. There, supposedly, he sits in deep thought, hour after hour, day after day--just thinking!
Supposedly that statue depicts the manner in which some of the religions of the world came into being.
But The Thinker had nothing to think from! No foundation for his thinking. No facts on which to base his conjectures.
The human mind is not equipped to manufacture truth with no basis for that truth!
However, few, it seems, really think!
Most people accept carelessly what they are taught from childhood. And, coming into maturity, they accept that which they have repeatedly heard, read or been taught. They continue to go along, usually without question, with their peers. Most people do not realize it, but they have carelessly assumed what they believe without question or proof. Yet they will defend vigorously and emotionally their convictions. It has become human nature for people to flow with the stream--to go along with the crowd-- to believe and perform like their peers around them.
Further, most people stubbornly refuse to believe what they are unwilling to believe. There's an old saying, He who is convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
I was no different. Of myself, and of my own volition, I would never have discovered these GREAT TRUTHS.
But then, the prophet Moses never would have discovered the truths he wrote--the first five books of the Bible. It required a miraculous act of GOD, in the incident of the burning bush, to open his mind and to reveal to him the things of GOD. Moses did not seek God. God called and drafted Moses. Even on being confronted by the very voice of God, Moses protested. He stuttered! He felt he could not qualify for the task. God said he would have Moses' brother Aaron be his spokesman and brought Moses to acquiescence. God's command was irresistible. Moses yielded.
The apostle Paul, centuries later, never would have come to know or reveal for us God's TRUTHS of his own will. He was breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1). But the living Jesus struck him down blind, brought him to his senses and instructed him both in knowledge and in what Christ determined he should do. Christ in Person revealed to him many of the TRUTHS you will read here.
How, then, did I come to understand the precious knowledge of the TRUTH? Certainly not on my own, or because I sought it or because of any virtues of my own. But Jesus Christ struck me down in a manner quite different from the apostle Paul's experience, yet nonetheless painfully and effectively.
Such basic TRUTHS are revealed, not thought out in any human mind. They come from God, not man! And in all biblically recorded cases the initiative was God's!
Jeremiah protested that he was too young. But God said: Do not say, `I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you shall go, and whatever I command you shall speak (Jer. 1:7, Revised Standard Version). Isaiah protested that he was a man of unclean lips, but God caused him to accept the appointed mission. Jonah tried to run away on a ship but God compelled him to deliver his commanded message. Peter and Andrew wanted to be fishermen but Jesus called on them to forsake all and to follow him.
Similarly, I wanted to be an advertising man, but God brought me by circumstances not to my choosing to the mission he had in store for me.
I repeat, at this point, this is the crux of the whole matter: the initiative is God's. His purpose shall stand. The world is full of religions that originated in the imagination, reasoning and speculating of certain humans. But TRUTH is REVEALED from GOD!
But, does not everybody have access to biblical truth? Yes, people suppose the churches teach what is revealed in the Bible.
So I give you, now, a brief
synopsis of the experience by which Jesus Christ struck me down, so
to speak, and revealed ASTOUNDING TRUTHS!
Biblical truths not believed or taught by the churches.
The Awakening--Spark of Ambition Ignited
I was born of ordinary but stable and upright parents, with an ancestry in the Quaker faith. I have my genealogy all the way back to Edward the First of England and a line extending back to King David of ancient Israel. I have been astonished to discover this genealogy and the fact that I am, on one side of my family, actually of the house of David. My forebears emigrated from England to Pennsylvania with William Penn, a hundred years before the United States became a nation.
I had been reared from earliest childhood in the Quaker faith, but religious interest in those formative years was passive.
At age 18 I virtually dropped all interest in religion, and ceased attending church. I had, at 18, put myself through an intensive self-analysis, coupled with a survey of the occupations and professions to determine where I belonged--to avoid being the proverbial square peg in the round hole.
Even at that age I had observed that most people were simply victims of circumstance. Few had ever planned intelligently their future lives. Many or most had stumbled into whatever job they found open. They did not choose where, in what part of the country or the world, they should live. They had been buffeted about by circumstance. Those who went to college chose whatever course or profession that appealed to them at the time.
But when I was yet only 16, a summer-vacation employer had, by praise for work well done and general encouragement, aroused the burning fire of ambition within me. Ambition is not only the desire for accomplishment, it includes the will and the drive to pay the price!
This self-analysis at age 18 led me into the advertising profession and a business life. I studied diligently, burning the midnight oil, instead of seeking youthful pleasures.
I became unusually successful. I worked hard, had a reputation as a hustler. I studied diligently, worked toward self- improvement. All this, of course, developed great self-confidence, which was later to be replaced by a different kind of confidence-- FAITH in Christ.
I selected the jobs where I would learn, and sold myself to my employers, choosing fields that threw me into contact with successful men.
In 1915 I established my own business as a publishers' representative in Chicago, Illinois. I managed to represent the nine leading bank journals of the United States--journals read by chief officers of banks. I did business with the presidents of many of the nation's largest industrial corporations in the Middle West. I attended state and national bankers' conventions, got to know many of the leading bankers of South LaSalle Street, Chicago, and Wall Street, New York. I was making an income, by age 28, equivalent to approximately $375,000 per year measured by today's dollar value.
It was at this height of my early business success that God began dealing with me. I had been recently married.
The Unrecognized Call
In a matter of days after our marriage, while living in Chicago, my wife had a dream so vivid and impressive it overwhelmed and shook her tremendously. It was so realistic it seemed more like a vision. For two or three days afterward everything else seemed unreal--as if in a daze--and only this extraordinary dream seemed real.
In her dream she and I were crossing the wide intersection, only a block or two from our apartment, where Broadway diagonally crosses Sheridan Road. Suddenly there appeared an awesome sight in the sky above. It was a dazzling spectacle--the sky filled with a gigantic solid mass of brilliant stars, shaped like a huge banner. The stars began to quiver and separate, finally vanishing. In her dream, she called my attention to the vanishing stars, when another huge grouping of flashing stars appeared, then quivering, separating and vanishing like the first.
As she and I, in her dream, looked upward at the vanishing stars, three large white birds suddenly appeared in the sky between us and the vanishing stars. These great white birds flew directly toward us. As they descended nearer, she perceived that they were angels.
Then, my wife wrote a day or two after the dream, in a letter to my mother that I have just run across among old family pictures, it dawned on me that Christ was coming, and I was so happy I was just crying for joy. Then suddenly I thought of Herbert and was rather worried.
She knew I had evidenced very little religious interest, although we had attended a corner church two or three times.
Then it seemed in her dream that Christ descended from among them and stood directly in front of us. At first I was a little doubtful and afraid of how he would receive us, because I remembered we had neglected our Bible study and had our minds too much on things apart from his interests. But as we went up to him, he put his arms around both of us, and we were so happy! I thought people all over the world had seen him come. As far as we could see, people were just swarming into the streets at this broad intersection. Some were glad and some were afraid.
Then it seemed he had changed into an angel. I was terribly dis appointed at first, until he told me Christ was really coming in a very short time.
At that time, we had been going quite regularly to motion picture theaters. She asked the angel if this were wrong. He replied Christ had important work for us to do, preparing for his coming--there would be no time for movies. (Those were the days of the silent pictures.) Then the angel and the whole spectacle seemed to vanish, and she awakened, shaken and wondering!
In the morning, she told me of her dream. I was embarrassed. I didn't want to think about it, yet I was afraid to totally dismiss it. I thought of a logical way to evade it myself, and still solve it.
Why don't you tell it to the minister of the church up on the corner, I suggested, and ask him whether it means anything. With that, I managed to put it out of my mind.
Let me say here that in about 99,999 times out of 100,000, when people think GOD is speaking to them in a dream or vision in this day and age, it is pure imagination, or some form of self- hypnotism or self-deception. But if this was a vision from God, like Jonah, I tried to run away. But subsequent to this, in God's due time, God dealt with me in no uncertain terms, even as he had dealt with Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, Andrew, Peter and the apostle Paul.
Then came the devastating flash depression of 1920. It was not long-lived, but dis astrous for the year. My big advertising accounts were in the farm tractor and implement and other manufacturing fields, rather than the metropolitan banks. All my big-commission clients, including such corporations as Goodyear Tire Rubber, J.I. Case, Moline Plow, John Deere and Company, Emmerson-Brantingham and Dalton Adding Machine, went into receivers' hands. One nationally known corporation president of my acquaintance committed suicide. Through no fault of my own, my business was swept out from under my feet by forces beyond my control.
Out of Portland, Oregon, where I had moved with my family, I established an advertising service for laundry owners. The laundry industry was 11th in the country in dollar volume of business, yet the most backward. I teamed with an efficiency expert, in my judgment top in the nation in his field. I took on only clients who allowed us to put their businesses on a new efficiency basis--both in the quality of laundering service and in business methods, which I supervised. I had to be able to make promises in the advertising that my clients would fulfill.
But in 1926 a national advertising agency based in the East sold the Laundry Owner's National Association a bill of goods--to put big-space advertising in the national women's magazines. The association had power to obligate every member to a commitment for this magazine advertising equal to approximately 85 percent of the justifiable advertising expenditure each local laundry could make. I knew nothing of this until it was a closed deal. I had been doubling and trebling the business volume of each of my clients. My business was growing. Again a highly successful business was swept out from under my feet through causes over which I had no control.
But there was a reason--God was taking away my advertising business.
Disturbing Dual Challenges
Then, in the fall of 1926, at age 34, it seemed that the roof had caved in and I was crushed! I was assailed by very disturbing dual challenges.
My wife, after nine years of happy marriage, began keeping the seventh-day Sabbath instead of Sunday!
I was aghast! I was angry. To me that was religious fanaticism! What would business contacts think? But she claimed to have found this teaching in the Bible.
All the arguments came instantly to mind. They were of no avail.
But the Bible says, I protested, Thou shalt observe SUNDAY!
Can you show that to me in the Bible? she asked.
Well, no, I replied. I don't know much about the Bible. My interests and studies have been in the area of business. But all these churches can't be wrong--they take their beliefs from the Bible, and they all observe Sunday.
If, she smiled sincerely--but to me exasperatingly--you can show me where the Bible commands Sunday observance, I'll go back to it.
There was no dodging the challenge. My marriage depended on it!
Coincidentally, a sister-in-law, newly married and fresh out of college, hurled at me a second humiliating challenge.
Herbert Armstrong, she accused contemptuously, you are just plain ignorant! Everybody who has any education knows human life has come by evolution.
I was proud. I had not neglected study and education. I thought I knew the facts about evolution, and I didn't believe in it. But now I had to admit I had never pursued a thorough, in-depth research of the particular question.
Following on the heels of my wife's fanaticism, this challenge was humiliating. This double jolt to my pride hit me immediately after the second time my business had been destroyed. The effect was devastating. It was utterly frustrating. Nevertheless I was determined to prove both my wife and sister-in- law wrong.
The dual challenge drove me into a determined almost night- and-day research. That intensive study continued for six months before I found the proved answer. Yet the study has never ceased to this day.
Both challenges focused on a common starting point--the book of Genesis in the Bible and the subject of origins--although that was only the beginning.
These challenges came at a period in life when I had ample time on my hands. I plunged with intense concentration into the study.
Researching the Bible and Darwin
I did not begin the research in Genesis. First I delved thoroughly into the works of Darwin, Lyell, Haeckel, Huxley, Spencer, Vogt, Chamberlin and More, and even into the earlier works of Lamarck and his theory of use and disuse, which preceded Darwin's survival of the fittest hypothesis.
Immediately those writings appeared convincing. (They necessarily are, to have won virtual universal acceptance in the world of higher education.) I readily understood how the field of education had been gripped in the clutch of the evolutionary concept.
Evolution is the agnostic's or atheist's attempted explanation of the presence of a creation without the preexistence of an intelligent Creator.
This initial stage of my research rudely shook my faith in the existence of God. It brought me to realization that I had assumed the reality of God, because from childhood I had heard, and therefore assumed, it. For a while my head was swimming. Was all I had ever believed mere myth and error, after all? Now I was determined to know the TRUTH! My mind was being cleaned out from ideas and beliefs previously taken for granted.
Of all the writings on evolution, Dr. P.E. More alone had culled out many discrepancies in the theory. Yet he, too, went along with the doctrine overall.
But now I had, first of all, to prove or disprove the existence of God. It was no casual or superficial study. I continued in this research as if my life depended upon it--as, in actual fact, it did, as well as my marriage. I also studied books on the other side of the question.
Suffice it to say here that I did find irrefutable PROOF of the existence of God the Creator--and I found proof positive of the fallacy of the evolutionary theory. The overwhelming array of college brainwashed minds to the contrary notwithstanding. I had the satisfaction of winning the admission of one Ph.D. thoroughly steeped in evolutionary thought--who had spent many years in graduate work at the University of Chicago and at Columbia--that I had definitely chopped down the trunk of the evolutionary tree. Like Dr. More, though, she had been so thoroughly brainwashed in evolution she had to continue in what she had acknowledged was PROOF of its falsity.
Also I had the enjoyment of being able to cause my sister-in- law to eat those words branding me as ignorant. All of which was mere vanity on my part, which I had not yet eradicated.
I had proved the reality of THE
GREAT MAJESTIC GOD!
But my wife's challenge was still tormenting my mind. Already, in the evolutionary research, I had studied Genesis.
I knew each of the world's religions had its own sacred writings. Once God's reality was proved, I had expected to continue in the pursuit of comparative religions to see if any such sacred writings proved authoritative. Through which of these--if any--did GOD speak to mankind?
Since I had to research the Sabbath question anyway, and already I had delved into Genesis, I decided to continue my study in the Bible.
A Doctrine at a Time
I came across, early, the passage in Romans 6:23: The wages of sin is death. I stopped, amazed. Wages is what one is paid for what one has done. Here I was staring at a statement diametrically opposite to my Sunday school teaching (prior to age 18).
Why, I exclaimed, how can that be? I was taught in church that the wages of sin is EVERLASTING LIFE in an eternally burning hell.
Another shock came on reading the last part of the same verse: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But, I questioned in disillusionment, I thought I already had eternal life--I am, or I have--an immortal soul. Why should I need it as a gift?
I researched the word soul by means of a Bible concordance. Twice I found the expression, The soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezek. 18:4 and 18:20).
Then I remembered I had read in Genesis 2 how God said to the first humans, who were souls, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
In Genesis 2:7 I read how God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man (dust--matter) became a living soul. This stated plainly that a soul is physical--formed from matter. I found that the English word soul is translated from the Hebrew nephesh and that in Genesis 1 fowl, fish and animals--all three--were nephesh, as Moses was inspired to write.
Next, I happened to read where Jesus said, And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man (John 3:13). I researched the heaven and hell teaching further. I saw where the inspired Peter, on the day he received the Holy Spirit, said, For David is not ascended into the heavens (Acts 2:34).
In this in-depth study of the Bible, I had the use of all the biblical helps--concordances, Greek-English and Hebrew-English lexicons, commentaries, Bible dictionaries and religious encyclopedias. The latter three of these, I found, were the works of scholarly but carnal minds. In historical facts and matters of a material and physical nature, they give help in research, but in God's revelation of spiritual knowledge I found them of little help.
I also used, in questionable passages, the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, with the lexicons. And I used every translation or version then published--especially the Moffatt, Ferrar Fenton, Smith-Goodspeed, American Revised and the Williams New Testament.
My Experience Unique
My research was totally different from that of students in a seminary. They absorb what they are taught in the doctrines of their denomination. Education has become a matter of memory training. The child, and the adult student as well, is expected to accept and memorize whatever is taught.
For example, in an elementary grade one of my grandsons was once asked by the teacher, Who discovered America?
The Indians, promptly answered the grandson. The teacher was astonished.
No, Larry, don't you know that Columbus discovered America?
No, Ma'am, the Indians were already here to greet Columbus when he finally arrived.
The lad was given a zero for his answer and severely instructed to always remember that the book says Columbus discovered America!
A pupil, or a student in high school or university, is graded on memorizing and believing what he is taught by the textbook, the teacher, instructor or professor.
In the first dummy copy of the magazine The Plain Truth that I put together in 1927--seven years before the magazine was actually published--I had an artist draw a picture of a schoolroom, with children sitting at the desks, each with a funnel stuck into his or her head. The teacher was pouring out of a pitcher ready- made propaganda into each child's head.
A student enrolled at a Methodist seminary receives Methodist doctrine and teaching into his head. A Catholic student studying in a Catholic seminary is taught Roman Catholic teachings. A student in a Presbyterian seminary is given Presbyterian doctrines. A student in Germany studying history is instructed in one version of World Wars I and II, but a history student in the United States is taught a somewhat different version.
But I had been called specially by the living GOD. I was trying to prove the very opposite of what I found clearly and unmistakably to be what the Bible SAYS! I was taught by Christ what I did not want to believe but what he showed me was TRUE!
Jesus Christ is the personal Word of God. He, in person, taught the original 12 apostles and the apostle Paul. The Bible is the SAME Word of GOD IN PRINT today. Thus it was the same Jesus Christ who taught both the original apostles, beginning A.D. 27, and 1,900 years later, beginning 1927, myself.
And let me add here that my study of God's revelation of truth has never ceased. Later Christ used me in founding three liberal arts colleges--including one in England. Through constant study, teaching and collaboration with spirit-minded faculty members in theological courses, my mind has remained OPEN. And knowledge of God's revealed truth has increased.
But in my initial six months' intensive in-depth study I was undergoing a process of UNlearning--discovering that church teachings had been the diametric opposite of Bible TRUTH!
This is not the place for a lengthy, detailed account of my intensive search in the Bible, and of my conversion. I had been bent on proving to my satisfaction that all these churches can't be wrong, for their teachings came from the Bible! The essential point here is the simple fact that I did find irrefutable PROOF of the divine inspiration and supreme AUTHORITY of the Holy Bible (as originally written) as the revealed Word of God. Even all the so- called contradictions evaporated upon unbiased study.
The most difficult thing for any human mind is to admit being wrong. It was not more easy for me than for others. But God had brought me, through circumstances, to the point where he had made me willing.
To my utter dismay and chagrin, I was forced to eat crow in regard to my wife's supposed fanaticism. It was not what I wanted to believe then. But by that time I had taken a severe beating. I had to accept PROVED truth, contrary to what I had wanted to believe!
It was humiliating to have to admit my wife had been right and I had been wrong in the most serious argument that ever came between us.
But to my utter dis appointed astonishment, I found that many of the popular church teachings and practices were not based on the Bible. They had originated, as research in history had revealed, in paganism. Numerous Bible prophecies foretold it. The amazing, unbelievable TRUTH is that the SOURCE of these popular beliefs and practices of professing Christianity was quite largely, paganism and human reasoning and custom, NOT the Bible!
I had first doubted, then searched for evidence, and found PROOF that God exists--that the Holy Bible is, literally, his divinely inspired revelation and instruction to mankind. I had learned that one's God is what a person OBEYS. The word Lord means MASTER--one you OBEY! Most people, I had discovered, are obeying false gods, rebelling against the one true CREATOR who is the supreme RULER of the universe.
The argument was over a point of OBEDIENCE to GOD.
The opening of my eyes to the TRUTH brought me to the crossroads of my life. To accept it meant to throw in my lot with a class of humble and unpretentious people I had come to look upon as inferior. It meant being cut off from the high and the mighty and the wealthy of this world, to which I had aspired. It meant the final crushing of VANITY. It meant a total change of life!
Life and Death Struggle
It meant real REPENTANCE, for now I saw that I had been breaking God's law. I had been rebelling against God in many more ways than just breaking the Sabbath command. It meant turning around and going THE WAY OF GOD--the WAY of his BIBLE--living according to every word in the Bible, instead of according to the ways of society or the desires of the flesh and of vanity.
It was a matter of which WAY I would travel for the remainder of my life. I had certainly reached the CROSSROADS!
But I had been beaten down. God had brought that about--though I didn't realize it then. Repeated business reverses, failure after failure, had destroyed self-confidence. I was broken in spirit. The SELF in me didn't want to die. It wanted to try to get up from ignominious defeat and try once again to tread the broad and popular WAY of vanity and of this world.
I had been part of this world. I did not realize, then, that this was not God's world but Satan's. I came to realize that accepting God's truth meant being called out of this world-- forsaking this world and its ways, and even to a great extent my friends and associates in this world. Giving up this world, its ways, interests, pleasures, was like dying. And I didn't want to die. I think one of the greatest tests that everyone whom God has called faces, is giving up this world and being part of it. But now I knew that this world's way was WRONG! I knew its ultimate penalty was DEATH. But I didn't want to die now! It was truly a battle for LIFE--a life and death struggle. In the end, I lost that battle, as I had been losing all worldly battles in recent years.
In final desperation, I threw myself on his mercy. If he could use my life, I would give it to him--not in a physical suicide, but as a living sacrifice, to use as he willed. It was worth nothing to me any longer. I considered that I was only a worthless piece of human junk not worthy to be cast on the junk pile.
Jesus Christ had bought and paid for my life by his death. It really belonged to him, and now I told him he could have it!
From then on, this defeated no-good life of mine was GOD'S. I didn't see how it could be worth anything to him. But it was his to use as his instrument, if he thought he could use it.
JOY in Defeat
This surrender to God--this REPENTANCE--this GIVING UP of the world, of friends and associates, and of everything--was the most bitter pill I ever swallowed. Yet it was the only medicine in all my life that ever brought a healing!
For I actually began to realize that I was finding joy beyond words to describe in this total defeat. I had actually found JOY in the study of the Bible--in the discovery of new TRUTHS, heretofore hidden from my consciousness. And in surrendering to GOD in complete repentance, I found unspeakable JOY in accepting JESUS CHRIST as personal Savior and my present High Priest.
I began to see everything in a new and different light. Why should it have been a difficult and painful experience to surrender to my Maker and my God? Why was it painful to surrender to obey God's right ways? WHY? Now, I came to a new outlook on life.
Somehow I began to realize a NEW fellowship and friendship had come into my life. I began to be conscious of a contact and fellowship with Christ, and with God the Father.
When I read and studied the Bible, God was talking to me, and now I loved to listen! I began to pray, and knew that in prayer I was talking with God. I was not yet very well acquainted with God. But one gets to be better acquainted with another by constant contact and continuous conversation.
So I continued the study of the Bible. I began to write, in article form, the things I was learning. I did not then suppose these articles would ever be published. I wrote them for my own satisfaction. It was one way to learn more by the study.
And I can say now, with the apostle Paul, that the gospel which [is] preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.... But when it pleased God...to reveal his Son in me...immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I [to a theological seminary, but I was taught by Jesus Christ, the Word of God (in writing)] (Gal. 1:11-12, 15-17).
That is why I have said the experience I was painfully subjected to in this original intensive study was unique in human life and conduct in our time. I know of no world religious leader who arrived at his teachings in such a manner. This world's religious teachings did not come from GOD! Only God is infallibly correct!
I was brought, by the spring of 1927, to a complete MIND- SWEEPING! My mind was being swept clean of previous assumptions and beliefs--I had been brought through a painful experience.
Twice profitable businesses had collapsed, leaving me frustrated.
Then I was brought to acknowledge that whatever religious beliefs I had held were contrary to the truth of God. Not only what I had believed, but also what the churches believed!
I had taken a beating! I had been brought to realize my own nothingness and inadequacy. I had been CONQUERED by the great majestic GOD--brought to a real repentance--and also brought to a NEW ROCK-BASED SOLID FAITH in Jesus Christ and in God's Word. I had been brought to a complete surrender to God and to HIS WORD.
I was baptized, and the infilling of God's Holy Spirit opened my mind to the JOY UNSPEAKABLE of knowing God and Jesus Christ--of knowing TRUTH--and the warmth of God's divine LOVE!
What I once hated I now loved. I found the greatest and most absorbing joy of my life in continuing to dig out those gold nuggets of TRUTH from God's Word. Now came a new enthusiasm in Bible study.
And I was led through the years from conversion to understand God's revelation of these seven biblical mysteries that have baffled the minds of humanity and to find that one and only true Church of God, founded by Jesus Christ on the day of Pentecost, A.D. 31.
Evolutionists, educators, scientists, religionists have striven in vain to solve the mystery of the ages--the origin of matter, the universe, and of man--the mystery of humanity--of awesome human accomplishment paradoxically paralleling human evils- -of great minds accomplishing the unbelievable while unable to solve human problems.
I now reveal an astounding,
rational, common sense breakthrough to the reader, of the SEVEN
that have bewildered all humanity.
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As it is recorded...
"...freely ye have received, freely give."