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HOW and WHY We Know
Here's a sample of clever but faulty human reasoning! Where God or the truth is concerned, it seems natural to reason suspiciously, and with a skeptical or hostile approach.
Would you be deceived by this type of reasoning?
Some time ago a man, who knew little or nothing about the truth that the living God is proclaiming to the world through us, asked:
"How can you know that you are any nearer right than anybody else? You say the whole world is deceived. You say the churches are wrong on many points of doctrine, but that you have the TRUTH. You say they are human, and have been deceived. Its human to err.
"But are you not also human? Are you not also fallible? How can you be sure you are any nearer right than any of the others?"
I want to give our readers the clear, plain, understandable answer to those questions! I want to EXPLAIN, so plainly you can really comprehend it, HOW and WHY we know we have the TRUTH!
I want to make clear how you may know what is the TRUTH, while this whole world is deceived and in utter darkness. I want to tell you HOW you may be SURE!
First, are we not also human? Yes, indeed! We can make mistakes, too! We, too, could be in error on this, that or the other point. But we do not need to be!
A man may say: "Who does this Herbert W. Armstrong think he is? Is he any smarter than all these great theologians - these noted preachers and heads of great religious denominations?"
The answer is NO - it is not a matter of intellectual capacity.
We are all human. We are all fallible. I have been wrong. I have made mistakes. The same is true of all those God is using in His WORK.
That is the very first thing that we do recognize. That is the starting point in the search for truth. That is one reason why we do have the truth, in the midst of a very deceived world. I wish every religious leader would adopt this approach.
God says, "PROVE all things." That means you are fallible. That means all the "great" men are fallible! ALL are human. ALL can be wrong - and nearly all are. The whole world is DECEIVED (Revelation 12:9). That means its religious leaders and churches are deceived!
The very recognition of that fact is the beginning of right knowledge. We do recognize it - and that we ourselves could be wrong. That is the first step toward coming out of the fog of error and deception, starting toward truth. It is not a matter of who has the greater intellect. A man may have the highest IQ in the world, and in his intellectual VANITY refuse to admit he could be wrong - reject all correction - and thus embrace error and deception.
The second step, if you would know TRUTH, is to be willing to admit being deceived, or in error, and to reject it and accept truth. Ask yourself: "Am I really willing to confess error - to admit Im wrong - when proved and reject it? Am I willing to accept truth new to me - when proved - even though unpopular - even though it cuts me off from my family, friends, associates or club members - even though everything in my selfish and vain nature rebels against it? Am I willing to act on it - OBEY the truth - no matter what the cost?"
Ah, yes! Perhaps now you are beginning to see why "all these great theologians - these noted preachers and heads of great religious denominations" could be in error. Did you ever know a person of great intellectual powers who did not have the kind of VANITY that shrinks from confessing he has been WRONG - and has misled others? To find and live the TRUTH requires a HUMBLED mind.
These are the first TWO points in which one who has come to the TRUTH differs from those still steeped in deception and error.
Can you be SURE that we have the TRUTH, when we, too, as the critic argued, are fallible, with minds that are not perfect? Yes, you can be SURE!
The greatest, ablest intellect in the world is still HUMAN - still fallible - still imperfect. Those who are deceived and steeped in error have simply not stopped to realize their own imperfections - their proneness to error. They assume, in their egotism, that whatever they believe is TRUE. And they are UNWILLING to humble themselves and confess their wrongs.
I can tell you how I started, 59 years ago, out of the darkness and into the light. And it is the basically sound and SURE way for you, or any other, to start.
First, I had to know whether there is a real BASIS for truth. Is there an INFALLIBLE AUTHORITY? In other words, does GOD exist? Is the all-wise, all-knowing, all-perfect GOD a reality? And if so, has He communicated basic TRUTH to mankind?
A world-famous Protestant leader writes (or has written for him and in his name) a syndicated newspaper column. It gives HIS answers to Bible questions.
A question published in this syndicated newspaper column asked whether the Bible gives any PROOF of the existence of God. The mans answer may be summed up in one word: NO. He answered that we must assume Gods existence - and then have FAITH. That is, have faith in this human assumption!
But the Bible commands, "PROVE ALL THINGS." That includes the existence of God! In the Bible, God says, "PROVE me now, herewith." The Bible says the scoffers "are without excuse," because the PROOF of Gods reality is clearly seen, even in nature. God Himself, in the Bible, offers the PROOF of fulfilled prophecies. He offers, though few experience this proof, the PROOF of answered prayer.
I found irrefutable PROOF of Gods existence in the facts of science, the FACTS of matter, in reason and in the Bible.
And second, I sought PROOF of whether or not the Bible is the authoritative REVELATION from God to mankind - and I found it positively PROVED by many irrefutable proofs. So I had a firm BASIS for faith. I had an infallible AUTHORITY!
Still, this was not alone sufficient. I had the SOURCE of truth. But, up to that time, I had never been able to UNDERSTAND the Bible. Neither do most scientists, educators or theologians understand it.
A great mind and a superior intellect, alone, are incapable of UNDERSTANDING this spiritual revelation from almighty God!
This is explained in the second chapter of I Corinthians. These truths of God are a MYSTERY - a hidden SECRET - that none of the leaders, rulers or great men of the world know (I Corinthians 2:7-8).
But God has revealed these spiritual truths to converted, Spirit-begotten Christians by His Spirit (verse 10). For what man can know the things of a man - that is, physical and material knowledge - but the spirit of man, which is in him (verse 11)?
Can you understand that? Pure physical BRAIN, composed of matter, cannot comprehend the things of this material universe known by scholars, scientists, educators. The dumb animals have physical BRAINS. But they do not comprehend HUMAN knowledge - the physical knowledge known to human MINDS.
But, as Job learned (Job 32:8), there is a spirit IN man. This spirit is not the MAN - man is DUST or matter (Genesis 3:19) - NOT spirit. But this human spirit, united with physical BRAIN, forms human MIND. Yet this human MIND is carnal. It can know the things of a MAN - that is, mortal or PHYSICAL things.
What man, then, could know or possess this material KNOWLEDGE, except by the spirit of MAN that is IN the man - united to and functioning with material BRAIN? The addition of this HUMAN spirit turns animal brain into human MIND.
Now go further in I Corinthians 2:11: "Even so no one knows the things of GOD EXCEPT THE SPIRIT OF GOD."
It is only by the receiving of Gods HOLY SPIRIT, to unite with the human mind, that a man may comprehend SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE. Only by the receiving and indwelling of the Holy Spirit are the real TRUTHS of the BIBLE comprehended by the human mind.
The great MINDS of this world cannot comprehend biblical and spiritual TRUTHS without Gods Holy Spirit, any more than a dog, horse, ape or elephant can comprehend physical, scientific knowledge without the spirit that is in MAN - and is NOT in the dumb brutes!
That is precisely WHY, up until 59 years ago, I could not understand the Bible. That is why nearly all of the truly GREAT minds of world leaders cannot understand this TRUTH! It is not a matter of degree of intellect.
So, in order to really perceive the deceptions that have BLINDED this world, once we have recognized our own fallibility and proneness to error - once we have become WILLING to admit it when proved wrong, and to accept TRUTH - the next step is to receive Gods gift of His Holy Spirit. And the CONDITIONS to this are: 1) REPENTANCE, and 2) FAITH in Jesus Christ as personal Savior.
Repentance is toward GOD. Sin is against GOD. We may harm or injure people - but we SIN against GOD. Sin is the transgression of GODS LAW. Sin is rebellion against GOD. It has cut us off from God.
To repent means to be so HUMBLED, SO broken up about the colossal crime of rebelling against the HOLY GOD - so abhorrent of our own rebellious, deceitful, vain, selfish SELVES - that in real contrition we turn to God for mercy and CHANGE of mind and attitude, now desiring to CHANGE OUR WAYS - to be obedient to GODS LAW.
Very few know what repentance really is. Then, through FAITH in Jesus Christ as Savior, we may be reconciled to God, and His PROMISE is that we shall then receive HIS HOLY SPIRIT.
The SELF has to die! It means unconditional surrender to God and HIS REVEALED WAY! I know that with me, it was a painful process. The SELF does not want to give up in surrender. I knew it meant ridicule and persecution from relatives, friends, former business associates. It meant a CHANGED LIFE. It meant a start toward a NEW AND DIFFERENT GOAL.
But God had humbled me. He brought me to repentance and faith. And He opened my mind to HIS TRUTH by the gift of His Holy Spirit.
But I had to be willing, continuously, to confess being wrong, and to embrace truths constantly NEW to me.
That process has been going on, now, for 59 years.
As I studied a portion of the Bible, I could now understand it. But I had to walk in the "light" as God opened my mind to see. Regardless of the cost in the esteem of men, or in countering opposition and persecution, I had constantly to BE WILLING to follow GOD and not man.
It is a matter of WILLINGNESS - not of superior and lofty minds. It is a matter of being LED by Gods SPIRIT into His ways that are so CONTRARY to this worlds established customs and beliefs, not of personal human powers.
WHAT CHURCH do you know that has ever publicly confessed that its teaching and practice has been WRONG, and has CORRECTED IT, to conform to the Bible? What great, lauded and mighty churchman or religious leader has ever made such a public confession, turned from his nonbiblical ways and, despite persecution and ridicule, PROCLAIMED THE TRUTH?
These lauded, lofty "greats" of this world could become undeceived and have their eyes opened to Gods truth - IF THEY WOULD BE HUMBLED, REPENT AND SURRENDER UNCONDITIONALLY TO ALMIGHTY GOD AND HIS LAW!
But if you would know what GOD says of these "great and eminent" religious leaders of the great denominations, read Gods PROPHECIES, in the Bible, describing these very leaders of OUR OWN 20TH CENTURY, in Jeremiah 23; Ezekiel 34; Ezekiel 22, especially verses 23-31, referring to British and United States peoples and their religious leaders NOW. at the time leading directly to "Gods WRATH" - the time of the last PLAGUES, just prior to, and at, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!
Yes, we CAN KNOW, if willing to know, whether we are right or wrong. It is not a matter of superior intellect, but of SUBMISSION TO GOD.
But the conclusion of the whole question is this: I did not start this work of my own accord at all. It is the very last thing I would have wanted, in my days of carnality, to do. IT IS GODS DOING!
By circumstances, God forced me to submission. The living JESUS CHRIST so manipulated events and the force of circumstance that He literally PLUNGED me into His work. It is not my work - it is THE VERY WORK OF GOD.
And THIS can be easily proved, to those willing to know the TRUTH!
PERSONAL FROM Herbert W. Armstrong