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OF GOD'S TRUE CHURCH
Where is the one and only true Church today-the Church founded
by Jesus Christ in A.D. 31? Seven major eye-opening proofs identify it unmistakably.
By Herbert W. Armstrong
YOU LIVE in a world of religious confusion. WHY so many different religions? The world has Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, with its many denominations and sects.
Religion is generally regarded as the worship of the Creator or the supernatural-although some Oriental religions are primarily philosophies.
The largest religion in the world, in asserted number of adherents, is Roman Catholicism. Its claim of being the original church of Christianity has won near universal acceptance in the Western world.
But where is the absolute AUTHORITY to identify the true religion, and the one original Church, of the Christian religion?
Or, is any authentic? Communism rejects religion, labeling it "the opiate of the people."
I seriously doubt if anyone has been put through the experience that came to me in settling this question with PROOF POSITIVE.
WHY do most people believe the things they believe? The philosopher C. E. Ayers said truthfully that few, indeed, have ever stopped to ask themselves in retrospect why they believe the things they believe, or HOW they came to believe them.
I have said many times that most people believe that which they have repeatedly heard, read, or been taught, and have carelessly assumed those things to be true without question and without proof.
I was born of stable and upright parents, whose Quaker ancestors had emigrated from England to Pennsylvania with William Penn a hundred years before the United States became a nation.
At age 18 I dropped all but the most passive interest in religion. I had put myself through an intensive self-examination, coupled with a survey of the various occupations and professions, to determine where I belonged-to avoid fitting the proverbial square peg in the round hole. This led me into the advertising profession and business life. I was unusually successful. I had continued through the years diligent study and application. I had planned that my business contacts were largely with "the great and the near great."
Then, at age 34, I was assailed by very disturbing dual challenges. My wife, after our nine years of happy marriage, had begun keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. I was aghast! That, to me, was religious fanaticism! She claimed to have found this teaching in the Bible.
My first upsetting thought was, "What will my business contacts and friends say?" It was a devastating thought, humiliating!
All the arguments came quickly to my mind. They were of no avail. She said she found this teaching in the Bible. "But the Bible says," I protested, " 'Thou shalt observe Sunday.' " "Can you show that to me in the Bible?" she asked.
"No," I replied. "I don't know much about the Bible. My interest and studies have been in the area of business. But I know the Bible teaches Sunday observance, because all these churches can't be wrong, and they derive their beliefs from the Bible."
"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 upon 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 question.
The dual challenge drove me into determined, almost night-and-day research. That intensive study continued for six months before I found the proven answer. Yet the study to this day has never ceased.
I was not only angered by these challenges-I was determined to prove both my wife and sister-in-law wrong. Both challenges focused on a common starting point-the book of Genesis in the Bible-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.
But I did not begin the research in Genesis. First I delved thoroughly into the works of Darwin, Lyell, Haeckel, Huxley, Spencer, Vogt, Chamberlin and Moore, 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 would have to be, 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, as I finally learned, is the atheists' attempted explanation of the presence of a creation without the preexistence of a Creator.
This initial stage of my research rudely shook my faith in the existence of God. It brought me to the realization that I had assumed the reality of God, because from childhood I had heard-and therefore accepted-it. For a while my head was literally swimming. Was all I had ever believed mere myth and error, after all? I was awakened to the realization I had never seen PROVED the reality of God. 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 writers on evolution, Moore 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 studied books on both sides 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. I had the satisfaction of winning the admission of one thoroughly steeped in evolutionary thought (she had spent years in graduate work at the University of Chicago and at Columbia) that I had definitely chopped down the trunk of the evolutionary tree; though, like Dr. Moore, she had been so thoroughly brainwashed in evolutionary theory she had to continue in it, even though she had seen and acknowledged 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." This, of course, 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 pursue the study of comparative religion-to see if any such sacred writings proved authoritative. Through which of these did GOD speak to mankind-if any?
Since I had to research the Sabbath question anyway, and had already delved into Genesis, I decided to continue my study of the Bible- intending to examine in depth the writings of other religions afterward.
In my biblical study I early came across 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 all the Sunday school teaching I had received 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."
I researched the word "soul" by means of a Bible concordance. Twice I found the words, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek. 18:4 and Ezek. 18:20).
Then I remembered I had read in Genesis 2 how God said to the first human, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (verse 17).
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 states 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 that the inspired Peter, on the day he received the Holy Spirit, said: "For David is not ascended into the heavens" (Acts 2:34).
I was, in utter astonishment, coming to realize that what I had been taught growing up in church was the precise opposite of what the Bible says in clear language.
This is not the place for a lengthy, detailed account of my intensive search in the Bible-when I was bent on proving to my satisfaction that "all these churches can't be wrong- for their teachings come 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 the revealed Word of God as originally written. Even all the so-called contradictions evaporated upon unbiased study.
Yet, 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 now I had taken a real beating. I had proved truth contrary to what I wanted to believe.
Let me pause here to add a point to what I wrote above, saying most people believe what they have repeatedly heard, read, or been taught. There are two other psychological truisms in regard to WHY people believe what they do. One is that people carelessly accept what those around them believe. Most Thais are Buddhists, because those around them in Thailand are Buddhists. There is the psychological tendency to "go along" with one's peers. One other reason for people's beliefs is that human nature tends to cause one to believe what he wants to believe-and refuse, regardless of proof, what he does not want to believe. There is the old saying, "One convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."
That is why I have said the experience I was painfully subjected to in this six months' intensive study was UNIQUE in human life and conduct. I know of no world religious leader who arrived at his teachings in such a manner. Perhaps that is why GOD'S INSPIRED WORD alone-as I proved-is TRUTH. Only GOD is infallibly correct!
I was brought, by the spring of 1927, to a complete MIND-SWEEPING-my mind swept clean of previous assumptions and beliefs and surrendered to the WORD OF GOD which by then I had proved to be TRUE and the SUPREME AUTHORITY.
More, I had been brought to realize my own inadequacy and nothingness. I had been brought to a real repentance-CONQUERED by the GREAT MAJESTIC GOD-and received as God's gift a solid rock-based FAITH in Jesus Christ. I was baptized, and the indwelling of God's 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 for biblical study and receiving the REVEALED knowledge of God.
And I was led to find that ONE and ONLY true and original Church of God, founded by Jesus Christ on the Day of Pentecost, A.D. 31.
I now reveal to the reader SEVEN MAJOR PROOFS that identify it.
WHO AND WHAT IS GOD?
It seems utterly unbelievable! The religions of this world do not know WHO or WHAT God really is! Yet religion is the worship of God. How can one worship what is UNKNOWN?
The only answer is that the Bible reveals that ALL NATIONS have been deceived (Rev. 12:9).
The true understanding of the very identity of God is one proof that the one and only Church founded A.D. 31 by Jesus Christ is, today, the Worldwide Church of God.
It seems inconceivable-but you live today in a world of religious CONFUSION! Among the largest of the world's religions are Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, with its hundreds of denominations and sects. The latter is the largest in number of adherents.
And yet only one religion, neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant, knows WHO and WHAT God is.
Modern science does not know. Higher education does not know or teach it. The intellectuals of the world in the first century were the Athenians. Certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics encountered the apostle Paul.
"What will this babbler say?" queried some in ridicule (Acts 17:18). Others sneered sarcastically, "He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods."
They took Paul and brought him to Areopagus, the supreme tribunal, on Mars Hill.
"May we know," they asked cynically, "what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears."
Here were the world's most "scholarly." Paul was preaching the truth of GOD.
"Ye men of Athens," said the apostle forthrightly and boldly, "I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions [idolatrous objects of worship], I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. GOD that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth."
WHO is GOD? CREATION is the basic proof of God. These Athenian Epicureans and Stoics did not even know that. Perhaps the adherents of many religions do not.
But what of the real NATURE of God? Just WHO and WHAT is God? We need a more concrete understanding than to say, merely, that God is the Being who created all. That is the starting point. Only the one original Church Jesus founded in A.D. 31 has the full answer.
It seems inconceivable that, of all the religions and churches in the world today, only ONE is unique in UNDERSTANDING the nature of the CREATOR of all that is!
Mankind could know! God reveals Himself in plain language in His Word, the Holy Bible. But no book has been so distorted, twisted, and misrepresented as this ONE SUPREME AUTHORITY OF TRUTH!
The generally accepted teaching of traditional Christianity is that God is a "Trinity"-God in three Persons- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which is designated as a "Ghost."
By about A.D. 59 the gospel Jesus Christ proclaimed had been suppressed (Gal. 1:6-7). A counterfeit "gospel" had replaced it. From about A.D. 70 there ensued "the lost century" of Church history. All historic record of the true Church of God had been systematically destroyed during that hundred years. The curtain had been rung down on Church activities, and when the curtain of recorded history lifted, an entirely different church appeared, calling itself "Christian." Extreme persecution by powerful forces had driven the true Church of God underground.
The church by the fourth century was more like the Babylonian mystery religion, having appropriated the name "Christianity" (Rev. 17:5).
There had been two heated doctrinal controversies-one called the Quartodeciman controversy between Polycrates and the bishops of Rome on the observance of the spring festival (should Passover or Easter be celebrated?). The other, between Arius, a priest of Alexandria, and the Roman bishops on the Trinity doctrine.
Emperor Constantine, the supreme head of the Roman Empire, called the Nicene Council in A.D. 325 and made both the pagan Easter (named from the goddess Astarte) and the Trinity doctrine LAW!
The Trinity doctrine limited God to three Persons. More of that later.
The King James biblical scholars translated the Greek words for Holy Spirit as "Holy Ghost," under the delusion that the Spirit of God was a third Person.
Also the translators of the 1611 version usually used the pronouns "he," "him," etc., in relation to the Holy Spirit, but not always: The pronoun "it" also is used.
But how does God reveal Himself authoritatively?
If one should ask, "Where, in order of time sequence, do we find the real beginning in the Bible?" the reply probably would be Genesis 1:1, beginning with the words, "In the beginning God...."
WRONG! In order of time sequence the earliest prehistoric revelation is in the New Testament, in John 1:1-3: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."
The Word was one Personage. God was another Personage. Yet the Word was a Personage separate from God-as shown in verse 14: "And the Word was [much later] made flesh, and dwelt among us.... " The Word became Jesus Christ.
The English "Word" is translated from the original Greek Logos, meaning "Word" or "Spokesman." That all things were made by Him is confirmed in Ephesians 3:9, where it speaks of God "who created all things by Jesus Christ." "He spake, and it was done" (Ps. 33:9).
Here are TWO Personages, yet both are GOD. How is that? A man named David Smith may have a son named Paul. But Paul, though a separate individual, is also a Smith. However, Jesus Christ did not become the Son of God until about 4 B.C., when born in human flesh of the virgin Mary. Prior to that, He had ALWAYS existed, even as had God. Christ was originally "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life" (Heb. 7:3).
Now come to Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning God...." This was written originally by Moses in the Hebrew language. The English "God" is translated from the Hebrew Elohim-a uniplural noun. It is uniplural in the same sense as the words "family" and "church"-denoting more than one component forming the whole. Not two Gods-but ONE God consisting of more than one Person.
When, only nineteen hundred-plus years ago, Jesus was begotten of God in the womb of His human mother Mary, He was the only human ever so begotten prior to human birth! Yet, as we shall see later, humans may become begotten children of God-after human birth, but preceding a spiritual birth.
Throughout the first chapter of Genesis, the Hebrew name of God is always the Hebrew Elohim, which denotes both the Word and God.
But in chapter 2, Moses began adding another name for God-Yahweh in the Hebrew, usually combined with Elohim: Yahweh-Elohim. In the King James English translation, it is rendered "LORD God," which is somewhat misleading.
It is interesting, at this point, to explain this name Yahweh. There is no one word in the English language which adequately translates it. It means "the self-existent, eternal-living, creative one." The Moffatt translation renders it "the Eternal." The Fenton translation uses "the Ever-Living." Personally, I prefer to use only the one word "Eternal," instead of "Lord."
In any event, the English "LORD" in the King James translation refers to that Person in the Godhead who in John 1:1 is called "the Word"-the very one who later became Jesus Christ.
That leads to an important point in the UNDERSTANDING of WHO and WHAT GOD is. Many if not most seem to believe the God of the Old Testament was the one Jesus prayed to as His FATHER. But many New Testament passages quoting from the Old Testament prove that the one of the Godhead who was born in human flesh as Jesus Christ was the Yahweh of the Old Testament and the Word of John 1:1. That knowledge is a portion of PROOF # 1 identifying the true original Church today.
Jesus came, among other purposes, to REVEAL the Father. Ancient Old Testament Israel knew of only ONE PERSONAGE in the Godhead-although their Scriptures contained the Hebrew Elohim. But to them, primarily, God was conceived of as not only ONE God, but only ONE Person! The truth is, Israelites generally knew nothing of God-the Person to whom Jesus prayed and the Father Jesus came to REVEAL.
However, another technical point is: God only became the FATHER of the GOD FAMILY when Jesus Christ was begotten and born as a human. Yet He may become our Father in heaven when we are begotten by His Holy Spirit. More of that later.
Now notice that God (Elohim) is more than one Person, even though only ONE GOD.
In Genesis 1:26, Elohim said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...." Notice! Not "Let me" but "Let us"-plural, or uniplural.
Then, in Genesis 2:2-3, "On the seventh day God (Elohim) ended his work which he had made. . . . And God [Elohim] blessed the seventh day...."
Then, verse 4: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God (Yahweh Elohim) made the earth and the heavens." Again it was through the Word, in the Hebrew named Yahweh, that the earth and heavens were made-as GOD created all things by Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9).
God reveals that He is spirit-composed (John 4:24). Unless supernaturally manifested, spirit is invisible to human eyes.
Jesus said to His disciples, "Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape" (John 5:37).
Later "Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us." Jesus answered, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:8-9). WHY? Because God the Father-if human eyes could see-looks like Jesus. And what did Jesus look like?
Certainly NOT like artists' renderings you have seen which are supposed to picture Him. For one thing, HE DID NOT HAVE LONG HAIR (I Cor. 11:14). He looked like other Jews then in Judea, else the chief priests would not have paid Judas Iscariot 40 pieces of silver to identify Him.
Now notice once again Genesis 1:26: "God [Elohim] said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness [form and shape]. ..." God is described in the Bible as having eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hair, arms, legs, fingers, toes. Jesus was "the express image of his [the Father's] person" (Heb. 1:3).
If the Holy Spirit is not a Person-a "Ghost"-then what does the Bible reveal about the Holy Spirit?
The natural carnal mind of man simply cannot grasp an understanding of spirit. It is not matter. The Hebrew word for spirit, ruach, and the Greek pneuma both are often translated into the English "wind," "air," or "breath"-because these physical words perhaps most closely explain spirit to the human mind-yet spirit is not physical or material.
The Holy Spirit is the spirit (not Ghost) that emanates out from both God and Christ everywhere in the universe. Through His Holy Spirit, God projects Himself, in spirit, everywhere in the universe-yet both God and Christ have form and shape, even as man.
The Holy Spirit is many things. It is the very LIFE of the immortal God, which, entering into a human, begets him with God-life.
It is the POWER of God by which, when Christ "spake," it was done. It is the POWER by which God stretched out the heavens-created the vast endless universe.
The Holy Spirit, entering into man as God's gift, opens the mind to UNDERSTANDING of spiritual knowledge, unknown to the human mind otherwise. It is the LOVE of God "shed abroad in our hearts." It is the FAITH of Christ which may be given to God's begotten children. It is the POWER of God, begotten within humans, enabling us to overcome Satan and sin.
We have covered the nature of God. Now consider HOW GREAT He is.
King David was meditating on this, and man's insignificance by comparison. He wrote: "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him?" (Ps. 8:3-4.)
Isaiah was inspired to write: "Who hath measured the waters [oceans] in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? . . . Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance. . . . All nations before him are as nothing ..." (Isa. 40:12-17). Then God is quoted: "To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? ... Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power ..." (verses 25-26). Yet, there is much more to come, in relation to David's comparison of God to man, and why God should be concerned about us, in a later installment-and fantastically thrilling it is!
NONE but the Worldwide Church of God today possesses the REVEALED TRUTH and knowledge of WHO and WHAT God is!