Personal From... April 1984
By Herbert W. Armstrong
A woman in London, England, a subscriber, writes, We do not agree with a lot of your teaching. Now there's nothing unusual about that.
I would estimate that about 99.99 percent of you who read this column did not agree with a lot of our teaching when you first heard the World Tomorrow program or first began reading The Plain Truth or The Good News.
THAT'S the very reason you should listen and read! If we tell you only what you already know and believe, we've wasted your time - we have failed to give what will profit YOU!
No two people believe alike in all things. Nobody agrees with EVERYBODY else.
Our purpose is to inform, to challenge, to stimulate THINKING, checking and PROVING what you believe. We always say, do not believe what we - or anyone else - say BECAUSE we say it. But listen without prejudice, check, verify, PROVE - and then believe what you find PROVED true. If you do, we think you'll come to believe what you read here.
But this lady wrote more.
At the end of your second letter, she continued, I noticed you said the Gospel message is an educational message. If this is so, it is not for us and for millions and millions of other people. And this statement is not biblical... The Bible was not written to inform man's mind, but to change man's heart.
WHAT'S THAT? This statement of mine is not biblical? The Bible was not written to inform the MIND?!
It is VERY IMPORTANT that our readers UNDERSTAND whether the Bible was written to inform the MIND! And whether the only TRUE Gospel is an educational message.
Entirely too many have been DECEIVED into the false idea that the GOSPEL is an irrational, sentimental, ethereal superstition. THAT is THE REASON, more than any other single reason, that modern education and educated people today have utterly REJECTED the Bible, the true Gospel and belief in God!
And my statement is NOT BIBLICAL? I will now show you - if your mind is open - precisely how COMPLETELY biblical it is!
This woman in London put her finger on the very CRUX of all this world's tragedies, its sorrows, pains and sufferings, its heartaches, its poverty, illiteracy, filth and squalor, its crime, broken marriages, violence and wars!
The CAUSE of all unhappiness and wretchedness is WRONG type of education, and LACK of the knowledge that can be received only from the revelation of the Creator - in His Word.
Simply because the world has thrown away the BASIC TEXTBOOK of true education - the Holy Bible!
The world has gotten all mixed up. The world, like this woman in London, has not realized just WHAT the Bible IS!
The Bible IS the FOUNDATION of ALL KNOWLEDGE - and it reveals the true APPROACH to the acquisition of all discoverable knowledge. It is our Maker's INSTRUCTION BOOK of needed knowledge acquirable from no other source.
What is the very TRUNK of the tree of knowledge?
It is the PURPOSE for the very existence of human life here upon the earth! It is to know the MEANING of life. It is to discern the TRUE values from the false. It is to know THE WAY to peace, happiness, abundant well-being and eternal life - THE WAY to what fundamentalists call salvation. To know just what IS salvation. Is it a PLACE - a geographical location? Is it a changed condition? Is it a change of composition - or WHAT? And HOW do we obtain it? Is that KNOWLEDGE important? Does the Bible teach it?
Is it rational? Does it make sense?
Nowhere but in the Bible can one obtain THIS BASIC, NECESSARY KNOWLEDGE! Of course, there seems to be an almost endless amount of knowledge that MAN can learn, discover or acquire by himself. God gave man eyes that see, ears that hear, hands that feel. God gave man a MIND that can reason, feet to carry him about, hands that can design and make instruments. He can make telescopes and microscopes. He can build and equip laboratories, conduct experiments. He can travel and explore.
But he cannot discover, by himself, WHAT he himself IS or WHY he is. Did he just happen, without intelligent design, by a purposeless process called evolution? Or was he CREATED and put here FOR A PURPOSE? And what is that purpose?
True education must teach us the art of peaceful, happy, successful living. Yet our schools DO NOT teach our oncoming generations HOW to live happily! None of the rulers, the scientists, the educators knows THE WAY TO PEACE - whether in the home, between neighbors or between NATIONS!
True education must teach how to become physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually MATURE. Yet NO school, college or university on earth save Ambassador College, so far as I know, offers young people this FULL and COMPLETE and BALANCED type of education.
But the letter from this woman in London says the Bible was not written to inform man's mind and it is not biblical to say that the Gospel is an EDUCATIONAL message!
THAT false supposition is a MAJOR CAUSE of all the world's unhappy ills!
WHY? How could that be?
Simply because that has been the common conception since the so-called old-fashioned gospel of the evangelical, fundamentalist Protestant denominations was first introduced as the newfangled religion some 250 to 350 years ago.
This so-called old-fashioned gospel is NOT the true Gospel brought to mankind by Jesus Christ! It is NOT the faith once delivered to the saints. Yet millions have SUPPOSED IT is! THEY HAVE SUPPOSED that the Gospel is a sentimental, nebulous, ethereal sort of EMOTION, irrational and UNrelated to the MIND. They SUPPOSE that THIS false gospel came out of the Bible! Therefore they ASSUME that the Bible is an impractical book of maudlin sentimentality, utterly unrelated to rational KNOWLEDGE.
Thus the Bible has come to be regarded as outmoded superstition - a book of fables - or, in the Old Testament, the writings of an ancient race of Jews ignorantly searching for a national concept of a god.
So THINKERS, without thinking, and without checking to SEE what the Bible is, or what it says, have relegated it to the scrap heap of outworn superstition. The EDUCATED have thrown it out the window, without searching to PROVE their biased assumption.
And the followers of evangelical protestantism - many of them, at least - have SUPPOSED that the Bible was not written to inform man's mind, but to change man's heart. They have accepted a sanctimonious sentimentalism in which they get to feel that they are spiritual and that they are saved, largely shutting up their minds against the rational teaching of the Bible.
A very religious woman who fell into this category once exclaimed, in surprised amazement, Why, you surely don't read the Bible to try to UNDERSTAND it, do you?
Why, of course I replied emphatically. Don't you ever read the Bible?
Oh yes! I read it every day, she said, putting on a sanctimonious tone.
Well then, do you mean you read it, but you don't let it SPEAK to you - you don't get any meaning from what you read?
But we're not supposed to understand the Bible, she persisted.
Like the woman in London, she thought it was not written to inform man's MIND.
Then WHY do you read it? I asked.
Why, just for INSPIRATION, she replied.
Entirely too many people are DECEIVED by this false idea. No WONDER the men of science and the educators of this world have ASSUMED that the Bible contains nothing RATIONAL - but only senseless, sentimental superstition, entirely irrational! Well, let's just read a few words of it! It won't poison your mind!
To the gentile-born Thessalonians, Paul wrote: But I do not want you to be IGNORANT, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep (I Thessalonians 4:13).
Was this written to inform man's MIND - prevent IGNORANCE? But of course MOST people today, because they embrace a sanctimonious superstition INSTEAD OF THE BIBLE'S MESSAGE, do not understand this!
The woman in London says, The Bible was not written to inform man's mind, but to change man's heart. If the Bible was written to change man's heart (AND IT WAS INDEED!) pray tell me HOW it can change man's HEART, if it is never understood by the MIND?
Just what does the Bible mean when it speaks of man's heart? The word heart is used, in this sense, to imply the ATTITUDE of MIND!
The BIBLE says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). It is not referring to the organ that pumps blood under man's chest.
It is referring to man's NATURE - his attitude or spirit or tendency of MIND. It is referring to his natural CHARACTER!
But HOW does God go about changing this deceitful, wicked NATURE - this heart - this attitude of MIND?
Only the Holy Spirit of God can do this. So how does one receive God's Spirit?
Jesus began His Gospel ministry and teaching saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT ye, and BELIEVE the GOSPEL (Mark 1:1, 14-15, Authorized Version). Two conditions He said WE must perform: REPENT and BELIEVE!
On the great day of Pentecost when Peter had received God's Holy Spirit, he explained the WAY of salvation: REPENT, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
Again, same teaching: two conditions - REPENT and BELIEVE. To be baptized is the outward ceremony of the inward BELIEVING.
Example: The eunuch said to Philip: See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized? And Philip said, If you BELIEVE with all your heart, you may (Acts 8:36-37).
Yes, TWO conditions. That, WE must do. Then GOD does the saving - the converting. God GIVES His Holy Spirit.
But now HOW does one REPENT? What does the word repent MEAN?
The dictionary definition is to change one's MIND. Godly sorrow produces repentance (II Corinthians 7:10). This is done in and by the MIND!
Paul was concerned about the MIND. He said, Let this MIND be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).
How does one BELIEVE, in order to be saved? One must BELIEVE with the MIND.
The very last words of the apostle Peter's letter were: But grow in the grace and KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II .Peter 3:18).
What is the FOUNDATION of knowledge - the starting approach to wisdom? The Bible tells us: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good UNDERSTANDING have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever (Psalm 111:10).
Speaking of the spiritual GIFTS - which God gives to His begotten children - to the heirs of salvation - we read this INSTRUCTION to the MIND:
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Through Paul, GOD says He does not want us to be IGNORANT - but UNDERSTANDING and KNOWLEDGEABLE of MIND!
Continue: Wherefore I give you to UNDERSTAND... NOW there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit... For to one is given by the Spirit the word of WISDOM; to another the word of KNOWLEDGE by the same Spirit; to another FAITH by the same Spirit (I Corinthians 12:1, 3-4, 8-9, AV).
The MOST IMPORTANT of all the spiritual gifts that God gives His people are, first of all WISDOM; second in importance, KNOWLEDGE; third, FAITH. These all are imparted to the MIND!
Jesus Christ said that we should actually LIVE BY every word of God - that is, every word in the Bible (Luke 4:4). How may we do that, unless we allow God's Word to speak to and instruct our MINDS?
What does study mean? Do we STUDY with our MINDS - or our hearts? We find this INSTRUCTION and TEACHING: STUDY to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15, AV).
That is a COMMAND! One can STUDY and rightly divide the Word of God only with his MIND!
God teaches - yes, COMMANDS! - that the Scriptures are to be STUDIED - with the MIND. Otherwise, how could we know God's WILL for us? So we find this command: therefore do not be unwise, but UNDERSTAND what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:17).
What a tragedy that so much of this world is DECEIVED.
MILLIONS have been deceived into a FALSE salvation, inoculated with the spiritual poison that salvation and the Gospel are concerned only with a sanctimonious mental anesthetic, shutting up the MIND to God's real TRUTH, accepting the counterfeit of a sentimental feeling of piety.
And other MILLIONS have been conversely deceived into supposing that this ethereal, impractical, irrational superstition of these professing but deceived Christians constitutes the teaching of the Bible.
So these millions, in their vanity wanting to be considered rational and educated - wanting to regard themselves as thinkers - throw away the Bible without so much as an examination of its contents.
BOTH these pious sentimentalists and these intellectuals are DECEIVED!
Going off in opposite directions, to the opposite extremes from the TRUTH, these groups are both headed for the same ultimate destination, unless there can be a mind-opening!
The Bible is the very SOURCE Of TRUE RATIONALISM, of basic TRUTH.
Also the Bible is the very SOURCE of the only TRUE Gospel and genuine SALVATION.
Surely it is the Book almost NOBODY knows!
What, then, IS the Holy BIBLE?
It is the FOUNDATION of all knowledge - knowledge that is otherwise utterly inaccessible to the mind of man - the knowledge of WHAT man is - of WHY man is - of the true values - of THE WAY to peace, happiness, abundant well-being, success - of ETERNAL life.
It is the FOUNDATION of all knowledge - scientific, physical and spiritual. Not the sum total of knowledge - far, far from it! It is the starting point - the BASIS, providing the proper approach toward the acquisition of knowledge that is discoverable by man.
It contains history, prophecy, wisdom, spiritual knowledge, TRUTH.
No one can be properly EDUCATED except by and through it. No one can know the way to eternal life, except by what it contains.
Yes, I REPEAT! The Gospel message IS an educational message! It is RATIONAL! It MAKES SENSE! And it is REAL!