|Autobiography of Herbert W Armstrong - Volume I
Trying to Convert Relatives IN ALL my experience since conversion one oft-repeated incident has brought sorrow and regret. Many times a certain individual has been used to bring us light, or truth, or help, or certain advancement or stimulus to the Work of God, only to lose out spiritually and be discarded, once his usefulness was over.
Resurrection Not on Sunday It was about this time, summer, 1927, my wife and I had learned an exciting, shocking truth. The resurrection of Christ did not occur on Sunday morning!
The crucifixion was not on so-called "Good Friday." These I had found to be mere traditions, totally unsupported by any evidence, and completely refuted by the sole historic record — the Bible.
I had learned — and found completely PROVED — that Jesus was in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea three days and three nights. Jesus Himself said so (Matthew 12:40). It was the only SIGN He gave as a miraculous PROOF of Messiahship.
The usual argument employed to discredit Jesus' statement, that this was an idiomatic expression in the original Greek meaning only three parts of days, or either a day or night, did not stand up. We had the same three days and three nights duration expressed in Jonah, inspired in Hebrew which knows no such idiomatic twist — or idiotic twist. Also many other passages verified the full 72-hour duration.
The crucifixion was on Wednesday. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was late Sabbath afternoon, prior to sunset. This is proved conclusively, not only by all the scriptures on the subject, which are many, but also by astronomy, and by the Hebrew calendar. In the year in which Jesus was crucified — A.D. 31 — the Passover was on a Wednesday, not a Friday.
The reader, if not already familiar with this truth, is invited to write for the booklet titled "The Resurrection Was Not On Sunday", and also, to learn the true origin and full truth about Easter, ask for the booklet titled "The Plain Truth About Easter". Both are free, of course.
From the beginning of the new Spirit-led life, I wrote, in article form the thrilling new truths being unfolded in this continuous almost night-and-day study. This discovery of the true dates of the crucifixion and resurrection was written in an article captioned "Foundation for Sunday Sacredness Crumbles."
I had found that opponents of God's Sabbath can invent some fifty-seven varieties of arguments to explain why they don't keep the Sabbath. But they have only one argument for observing Sunday — the supposition of a Sunday morning resurrection.
Of course no scripture anywhere tells us to observe the day of the resurrection. That, too, is a man-made argument.
Actually, there is absolutely NO Bible authority for Sunday observance. The only authority for it is that of the Roman Catholic Church — a fact I believe any Catholic priest will confirm. Protestants, whether knowingly or not, acknowledge the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in observing Sunday.
With a Sunday resurrection illusion shattered, the last supposed foundation for Sunday observance had crumbled.
Disheartening Disappointment This article, "Foundation for Sunday Sacredness Crumbles," I believe, was never published. I did not write the articles, in those days, with the intention or expectation of having them published. I had been a trained advertising-copy and magazine-article writer. It simply came naturally to put into article form these intriguing, fascinating truths for my personal enjoyment and record.
But, exciting as these new truths were to me, I realized fully I was new in the truth — a novice spiritually — a "babe in Christ." I deemed it wise to have this newly discovered truth about the day of the resurrection verified by others more experienced in Biblical understanding than I.
It was but natural to look upon the man whose prayer God had so miraculously answered in healing my wife as a "man of God." So, even though I felt sure this truth was proved, I wanted to be doubly sure. Also I sincerely wanted to share this wonderful truth with the man whom God had used in sparing my wife's life. So I walked down to the old Billy Sunday tabernacle, out past 82nd Street, where this man was caretaker, one evening, very shortly after my wife's healing.
This "man of God" promised he would study my article and give me his opinion. Then a few nights later I returned to his living quarters in a corner of the giant tabernacle.
For several minutes other subjects occupied the conversation.
"But did you study into my article about the day of the resurrection?" I asked, since he avoided mentioning it.
"Well, yes, Brother," he replied, "I took it to our pastor and we went over it together."
"Well, did you find any error in what I wrote?" I persisted.
"Well, no, Brother," he admitted, "we couldn't find anything wrong with it. It does seem to be according to the Scriptures, but Brother, we feel that studying into that kind of subject is likely to be dangerous. It might get you all mixed up. We feel it would be better for you to just forget all about that — just get your mind clear off of that. There are more important things for you to think about and study into. It's best to just keep your mind on Christ."
"But," I rejoined, suddenly disillusioned, "if the resurrection was on the Sabbath, and not on Sunday, the only reason anyone has for Sunday observance is gone. Don't you think we might be breaking the commands of God and sinning, if we ignore such a truth?"
"Well, now, Brother," he tried to reassure me, "that's just the trouble. You see how it could get you all upset. All the churches observe Sunday. We can't start to fight all the churches. Now we are saved by GRACE, not of works. We think there are more important things in salvation than which day Christ rose on, or which day we keep. This could just get you all mixed up. It could be dangerous. Better just get your mind off of such things."
I walked back to our home on Klickitat Street in Portland, grieved and sorrowfully disillusioned. I had had a lot of confidence in this man. Now here he was, admitting I had brought him a new TRUTH, proved by the Bible, yet rejecting this LIGHT — and, more, advising a newly converted man who had confidence in him to reject THE WORD OF GOD!
Arriving home, I happened to turn to Hosea 4:6, where God says that because we have rejected His knowledge, He will reject us.
TRUTH, or Consequences A week or two later I walked back out past 82nd Street to the huge old Billy Sunday tabernacle. This thing had weighed heavily on my mind. This tall, uneducated, plain and simple man had been an instrument in God's hands not only in saving my wife's life, but also in opening our eyes to the truth of God's healing power. I felt deeply grateful. I hoped that even yet I might help rescue this man from the consequences of rejecting God's revealed knowledge.
I found him in the big auditorium. He appeared dejected, downcast, worried.
"Brother," he said, on looking up and seeing me, "Brother, something terrible has come over me. God has left me. He doesn't answer my prayers any more. I don't understand what has happened."
Poor man! I understood what had happened.
He had been a trusting and deeply sincere, if simple, man. God had used this man. God used him to bring my wife and me the knowledge that God actually performs miracles for those who trust Him — He heals — if we obey and believe. And how many other people God had helped through this man's prayers I did not know.
Evidently, until God used me to test him by bringing to him a new truth, he had not deliberately rejected truth nor disobeyed God's commands knowingly. God looks on the heart, and until this man followed his preacher in deliberately rejecting light and truth from God which he acknowledged to be truth and which led to willful disobedience, his heart was honest and sincere in his simple way.
But he had rejected God's knowledge. And now God had rejected him!
His prayers were no longer answered.
He was now guilty of disobedience of God's Law. And God reveals through John that "whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and DO those things that are pleasing in HIS sight" (I John 3:22). This man no longer complied with the divine conditions. Yet, if ever I met a man who had the "gift of healing" spoken of in I Corinthians 12:9, this man had had it.
God had used him to bring to us a truth. We accepted it, and began to walk in it. Then God used me to take to him a truth. He acknowledged that it was the truth. He had seen it proved. Yet he rejected it, and walked in disobedience instead of in the light! God used this man no more.
Of course he had MUCH to learn, had he continued as an instrument in God's hands. True Christians must continually overcome, and GROW in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The servant of God cannot stand still. Either he advances, and grows spiritually against opposition and obstacles, or he falls by the wayside to be rejected. It is not an easy road.
This incident just described is but one of many of its kind. Later I was to encounter many more whom God used to help me and His Work, only to see them endure but a while, and fall aside. Several of these have been among our closest and most loved personal friends. These experiences have provided our greatest suffering in God's service. They were pictured by Jesus' parable of the sower and the seed. It seems the majority who start out on this straight and narrow road of opposition, persecution, trial and test, self-restraint, continuous attitude of repentance, overcoming, growing, fail to endure until the end.
It has grieved Mrs. Armstrong and me deeply to see so many for whom we were grateful — who had helped us and God's Work — whom we learned to love so much, turn aside finally and drop out of the race for eternal life.
"Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall!" How about YOU?
Don't YOU Make THIS Mistake! That year 1927 was a very eventful year in my life.
As soon as I swallowed my bitterest pill of rebellion, surrendered to obey and trust fully in the Mighty God through faith in the living Jesus Christ, this new Christian WAY became the most happy, joyful experience of my life. Studying the Bible became a passion and a joy. I plunged into it with concentrated zeal.
The all-day sessions at the Portland Public Library did not stop with my capitulation to the truth following the six months' angered study to end my wife's "fanaticism. "
No longer was it an intensive study driven by anger and determination to have my own way. Now it was an enthusiastic study of eager anticipation, literally thrilling to every new discovery of spiritual "light" and basic knowledge.
Now a passion swept over me to "get our families converted."
With the best intentions in the world, I set out on a vigorous campaign. To me, it was the loving and intense desire to share the wonders and glories of Bible knowledge with those we felt we loved most. But to most of them, it was an unwanted effort to "cram my crazy religion down their throats."
I did succeed, apparently, in talking one sister-in-law into a certain start. I had to learn later it was a false start. She was baptized, either when I was, or very shortly afterward. But, as too often happens when a high-pressure salesman talks one into something he doesn't really want, she turned against it all shortly afterward.
I had to learn, however, that, even though I had believed I was a pretty good salesman in my earlier business experience, I was unable utterly to "cram my religion down my relatives' throats." My efforts only aroused hostility. They said I was "crazy."
This is a universal mistake committed by the newly converted. Especially is this true where a husband or wife yields to God's truth without the other.
It actually threatened to break up our marriage — even though Mrs. Armstrong did NOT attempt to inject her new religious belief into me. In our case the marriage was saved because I accepted the challenge to study into it myself, confident I could prove she was wrong.
But most mates will not study into it. Most unconverted mates, especially if the converted one tries to talk the other into his or her religion, will break up the home instead.
In all the years since my conversion, I have known of many marriages that have ended in divorce because the newly converted mate tried to talk the unconverted one into it. I have never heard of a case where the unconverted mate was talked into accepting it.
Of all things evil and harmful a newly converted Christian can do, the very WORST iS to try to talk your husband or wife into your religion. WHATEVER else you do, let me plead with every such reader, NEVER commit this tragic sin. If you love your husband or wife, don't do it!! If you love your Saviour who died for you, and now lives for you, DON'T DO IT!!!
Learning the Lesson Remember these scriptures: "No man can come to me," said Jesus, "except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44, 45). Again, Jesus said: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother ... and a man's foes shall be they of his own household ....He that loveth father or mother" ... (or wife or husband) ... "more than me is not worthy of me .... And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:34-38).
God made every human a free moral agent. Thank God! — no one has power to force on you any unwanted religion.
Every individual makes his own decision. A religious difference between husband and wife is a serious handicap. The Bible forbids a converted person from marrying an unconverted.
But if such difference already exists, do not make matters worse by talking religion to your mate. Do all your talking to God in prayer. Let your mate see your happy, pleasant, cheerful, joyful, loving WAY of life — not hear your arguments or nagging! Allow your mate complete religious latitude and freedom — whether to be converted, religious, irreligious, or atheistic!
I am glad I learned that lesson early. I have had to maintain certain business connections with many people, since being plunged into God's Work. I must maintain contacts with radio men, publishers, professional men. I get along splendidly with them. A big reason is that I never talk religion to them.
I never try to talk anyone into accepting Bible truth or being converted. I go to the world over the air, and in print, and everyone is free to listen, or read — or to dial out or not read. No one gets our literature unless he personally requests it. We try never to force God's precious truth on anyone. That's GOD'S WAY!!
How NOT to "Witness for Christ" Do you know how the Apostle Paul won individuals to Christ? Not the way people attempt to do it today. He said "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." When he talked to an unconverted Jew, do you suppose he spoke as a Christian thinking he is "witnessing for Christ" would do today? Do you suppose Paul said to the unconverted Jew: "Have you received Christ as your personal Saviour?"
No, that is not the way Paul spoke to unconverted Jews. Paul said: "Unto the Jews I became as a Jew" (I Cor. 9:22, 20). Paul spoke to others from their point of view! He talked to a Jew just like another Jew — from the Jewish viewpoint — showing sympathy and understanding of the Jews' way of looking at Christianity. Paul did not arouse hostility — he put it down, so that they were sympathetic toward him, not hostile. He became as a Jew, "that I might gain the Jews." Even so he gained only a small minority, yet it was a large number.
Perhaps you have had your eyes opened to the fact that sin is transgression of God's Law. Most professing Christians have been taught, and consequently sincerely believe, that "the Law is done away." Paul was inspired to write that the carnal mind is hostile to God and to God's Law; "it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). If you say to your unconverted mate who is hostile to God's Law, "You're just a rebellious sinner, and your church is just one of these false worldly churches," you have not only aroused hostility, you have yourself been hostile, and you probably have broken up your marriage.
How did Paul talk to such people? Listen: "To them that are without law, as without law, that I might gain them that are without law."
First Principle in Influencing Others One of the first principles of successful advertising I learned early in my career is that to get results you must first learn the attitude of your reading audience toward whatever product or service you are advertising. You must not antagonize those whom you expect to persuade. You must approach them from their point of view — not from yours, especially if your viewpoint is contrary to theirs. To win them to your point of view, you must approach them from their viewpoint. Otherwise you only arouse hostility.
I know that these words are addressed to a very large number who have made this terrible mistake. That is why I have devoted so much space to this point.
If you believe God's truth, and your husband or wife does not, NEVER TALK RELIGION to him or her. If your mate normally thinks and speaks only of material and worldly things, then you must speak of material things to your spouse.
If the World Tomorrow broadcast has, probably because of your own aggressiveness in trying to get your mate to listen, become a sore spot, go off to some private room to hear the program. Keep the volume turned down. Make every effort NOT to antagonize your husband or wife.
And again, when you talk about it, talk to God in prayer. Let your mate see your good conduct, in a manner that he or she will naturally approve. Avoid every hostility. Be pleasant. Keep cheerful. Be happy. Radiate JOY! Give LOVE and warm affection! Do everything to cause your husband or wife to like you! THAT IS THE CHRISTIAN WAY!