And greetings friends! This is Herbert W. Armstrong with the Good News of the World Tomorrow!
Why is it that nearly everybody today seems to believe the Bible says exactly the opposite of what it does say? Why is it people do not know what it says? They misunderstand. Why is it you have not been hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ? You have been hearing a message about Christ, a gospel of men about Christ, but not the Gospel of Christ which He preached.
Now, to see just what He did preach, the example that He did set, what the early Church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of the Apostles did believe and what they did preach and the customs they did follow, we are once again going through the first four books of the New Testament, skimming through them to learn what Jesus Christ taught, the example that He set. And then we're coming into the Book of Acts to see what is the real history of the Church as it started out in its purity under the real inspiration, the guidance of the Spirit of God and under the Apostles who had been taught and trained and schooled under the personal direction of Jesus Christ.
And now we come to Mark the 3rd chapter and beginning with the 3rd verse. Listen, we're going to see something a little unusual just now. You're going to have some surprises. Listen. "Jesus with his disciples withdrew to the sea."
Now, you have always supposed that Jesus came to try to get the world saved, that Jesus sought great crowds, that the preachers today when they use their ballyhoo methods, their great splurge of advertising all of the trick psychology to attract a great crowd and a great audience are merely following the custom set by Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself did not try to attract crowds, He rather ran away from them.
You see, Jesus Christ was God in the human flesh. He was God changed into man. Now, there was another person of God, the Father, who was in Heaven while He was on earth. And He had been with the Father from eternity. "And all things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made." But He became human and for a very great and wonderful purpose.
But it was not His purpose to try to save the world. Neither has it been up unto now, strange as that may seem. There isn't any contest going on between Jesus Christ and the Devil. Most people seem to think that God is desperately doing His very best to get this world saved but poor God's been failing. The Devil is outsmarting God and the Devil is stronger than God and the Devil keeps most of the people lost and only a small portion are saved.
Now, didn't Jesus come that He could save the world and didn't He die in order to reconcile the whole world to God? Well, He hasn't done it? My friends, the answer is plain when you read your Bible and see it. Jesus Christ did come to reconcile the world to God and God is going to do it. And when God does set His hand to save this world, God Almighty will save it! God's purpose stands! Nobody is in competition against God, actually. The Devil can only do what God allows. And anything the Devil is doing is by God's express permission. Don't ever forget that.
God is the responsible party over this entire universe. It's His, He created it. He set all of its laws and every law and every force in motion. He guides and controls them. Those laws and forces could not continue if God didn't sustain them and keep them active and keep them alive and God's at the controls and God guides them. He is the supreme ruler of the universe. It's about time men woke up to realize it.
Believe it or not, when Jesus spoke to the multitudes, He always spoke to them in parables. Why? As He said, and we're going to come to that just a little later, in order to cover up the meaning so they couldn't understand what He was saying. He spoke to them in parables because He said it was not given to them to understand. So He spoke in a language they could not understand. The disciples didn't understand. They came to Him and said, "Well explain that parable, we didn't understand it. What did you mean by it?" And one of the said, "Now why do you speak to them in parables?" And Jesus answered and said, "I speak to them in parables because it is not given to them to understand. So, I speak in parables so that hearing they'll hear but not comprehend what I'm talking about; that seeing they'll see but not perceive. But to you," He said to His disciples whom He had chosen. He had chosen them. He had called them to understand to open up their minds and to impart to their minds the truth. He said, "To you it is given to understand." And then He explained that parable in plain language. And until He deciphered it and explained it in plain language, they themselves the Apostles or they were the Disciples then, did not understand it.
Incidentally, once again let me explain the difference between a disciple and an apostle. The word disciple means a student or a learner. And well, they were disciples, they were going to school so to speak and Jesus Christ was the teacher and they were going to school and He was teaching them. But after they had been taught and as we might say in today's language had graduated and had qualified then they became Apostles. And an apostle is an ambassador. An apostle is one who is clothed with authority to represent his government in a foreign or a strange land. And the government that they represented was the Government of God Almighty. And they were in a foreign and a strange land so to speak, that is foreign and strange from the ways and the Government of God here on this earth and they represented God and they had authority.
Now, God works through human agencies. And Jesus was God in the human flesh. Jesus did not propose to come and spread that message to the world. He proposed to teach it to His disciples and send them and work through them that they might preach it to the world. And so He did work through them. Now, that's why the Church is the Body of Christ. The work that God was doing through Christ. . .
And you know, incidentally, Jesus said, "I can do nothing of myself." Jesus Himself as a human being was just as helpless as you or I. He said, "The Father that dwelth in me, he doeth the works." And Jesus said, "I have spoken nothing of myself."
You know today they think that Jesus was sort of a, well, a little smarter than His Father in Heaven, that He knew more, that He just didn't quite agree with His Father, that Jesus saw the mistake His Father had made in that terrible old Law. And so Jesus came to do away with the Law and He nailed it to the cross good and secure and poor God wasn't able to get it down off the cross, that Jesus nailed it up there so tight, it's been there ever since. And you know a lot of preachers are desperately trying to keep God's Law nailed up to the cross so you won't obey it.
The Law of God, my friends, was given, I'm talking of the Spiritual Law because God is the author of a good many laws and the Spiritual Law that is summed up in the Ten Commandments is the spiritual way of life. It's the way to peace. It's the way to happiness and to prosperity and to joy. And the only the reason that we're in an unhappy world today and the world is so unhappy is because it's thumbing its nose at the Law of God and the God whose the author of it. And they're presenting Jesus as if He knew more than His Father, was antagonistic to the Father like the smart-aleck young man that knows more than dad and so He nailed His Father's Law to the cross. Oh, no, He didn't. You haven't heard what the Bible says. Most of you have never read the Bible for yourselves. And if you'll blow the dust off it and read it for what it says and read it as it is and not read some different meaning into it, you will be astonished!
Now, Jesus did send His Apostles out to preach the Gospel. And God had worked in the human body of Christ because it was the Spirit of God in Him that did everything He did and performed all of His miracles. And He said, "The works that I do shall you do also. And greater works shall you do because I go unto the Father." Then again He said in John's gospel, "That if I go to the Father, I will send the other Comforter to you, the Holy Spirit. But if I go not, he cannot come." It was necessary and expedient for them that He go. Now, when the Holy Spirit came, that was the Power, the Spirit, the Mind of God, yes, even the Faith of God that had been working in Jesus Christ, now working in the human physical bodies of the Apostles and the Church. And so, the Church now became the body through which God was working. That is why the Church is called the Body of Christ.
And it is the Body of Christ and only as it performs the work, the mission of Christ. And God had given Christ a work to do. And Jesus Christ taught His Disciples and ordained them then as ambassadors or as Apostles and He gave them a work to do and gave them a commission. And the first and primary commission is "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations and every creature."
Now, that is the prime work of the Church, not being a social club and meeting together and enjoying each others society. The reason they meet together is that they may be unified and encourage one another and help one another in the mission of the Church which is to get God's Gospel to the world. But they hid that Gospel and they have substituted for it a different Gospel. And so, those that profess to be the Church today are not the Body of Christ, because the Spirit of Christ is not doing the Work of Christ in their bodies.
Now, let's get back to Jesus here in Mark the 3rd chapter, beginning the 7th verse, "With his disciples he withdrew to the sea . . ." Instead of seeking crowds He went away from them, ". . . and a great multitude from Galilee followed . . ." He didn't go after them, they went after Him. Now, because of His miracles, because of the great wisdom and the authority with which He spoke, the crowds did follow Him. The fame of Him grew and spread all over that part of the world. And of course the world wasn't as large then as it is now in a way, because they didn't have the kind of transportation that we have today. And in those days, I would say that a 100 miles was farther in those days than perhaps 5,000 miles is today or as certainly as far as a couple of thousand miles would be today.
So ". . . from Judea, And from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond Jordan; and about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude hearing what great things he did . . ." I want you to notice that Jesus set us an example and He did!
Today, what do they tell you? "Oh, there are no works to Christianity." And they seem to believe today that your religion, your Christianity has nothing to do with your business, nothing to do with your politics, nothing to do with your education, nothing to do with your social life. That is you have your social life and your political life and you have your business life and your education while you're young, and all of that, but what's religion got to do with that? Why nothing — that's what most people think today.
Now listen, the truth of God is a way of life and it permeates your entire life and every phase of it and everything is a part of it, your business, everything that you do, your society, everything. It is your life or you're not a real Christian according to the Bible and the Word of God. A lot of people have been deceived. And I say to you by the authority of Jesus Christ there is going to be weeping and gnashing of teeth and a lot of people are going to be sadly disillusioned some day when they come to see the truth! If you will open your ears and your mind and your heart, you can come to know it now. Will you? Or are you stubborn like a little child that is rebellious against Daddy and Mama and doesn't want to obey them and wants its own way. You're just little children grown up, aren't we? And most of us are rebellious against God. We don't want any of God. We want Him to get out of the way and let us do as we please! Then we want Him to give us every blessing in the world though and make the wrong things we do give us nice results and pleasant surprises and make us wealthy and happy and wise and everything of that sort. Well, you just can't get it that way, my friends.
Now, the crowds came from great distances all around and they followed after Him but He didn't seek them. "And he spoke to his disciples, that a little boat should wait on him because of the crowd, lest they should throng him: for he had healed many; insomuch that as many as had plagues pressed upon him that they might touch him." If they could just touch Him they thought they would be healed, and where they had the faith, they were.
"And the unclean spirits . . ." Now these are demons that had gotten into people. That sounds very strange to people today. We've gotten so far away from God and the things of God and the invisible things of God and the mysteries of God that we don't understand them today and they seem rather strange and fanatical today. But the things that are really strange and fanatical seem real. We've gotten too close to them.
So, "the unclean spirits, whensoever they beheld him, fell down before him, and cried . . ." Now, those spirits were in people and actually what people saw was other people falling down in front of Jesus, but those people, actually in their own minds they, they were clear out of their own minds, a demon was in them and possessed their minds, and so, in the Bible language here, it doesn't speak of the people falling down but the spirits, that possessed these people and were in them.
So when they beheld Jesus, they "fell down before Him and cried saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he charged them much that they should not make him known." You know, the other people around there didn't have that knowledge. They didn't recognize Jesus. He looked just like any other man. But demons have knowledge, because they're angels that have gone the wrong way, that's all. We call them fallen angels. Well, actually they're just angels that have rebelled against the Government of God — that is their fall. They are going the wrong way. They are thinking wrong thoughts. They have intelligence. They have knowledge. But in all their ways they are perverted. Their minds are warped. Their thoughts are wrong. And they go in the wrong direction. They're all twisted. They're all mixed up. They're warped. And when they get into a person, they're just like that. They have a spirit, a spirit of impudence and whenever you meet a demon-possessed person, especially if you were in my shoes and they recognize you as demons do recognize me. They recognized the Apostle Paul, they recognized Jesus, they recognized Peter, they recognize any true ordained minister of God that God is using. And they're always sassy. They're impudent. They're just like little children that like to be sassy and impudent. Yes, they recognize me and I recognize them.
"Thou art the Son of God," they said. They knew who He was. "But he charged them much that they should not make him known." They had to obey Him when He gave them a direct command, even though they were rebellious.
Now, let's continue instead of the 13th verse of Mark where we have come, the 6th chapter of Luke is recording exactly the same thing. And I want to give it to you in Luke's account here beginning with verse 12. It's just Luke's account of the same identical thing.
"And it came to pass in these days, that Jesus went out into the mountain to pray . . ." You know my friends you read that Jesus was tempted in all points like we are and yet He was without sin.
Now, the Bible definition of sin is rebellion against God, disobedience of God. In other words, transgression of the Law as you find it in I John the 3rd chapter and the 4th verse. God is the Supreme Ruler. The greatest truth in the Bible, the central truth in all the Bible is that God is Creator-Ruler and that we should submit our lives to Him, that we should let Him rule our lives and say as Jesus did, "Not my will, but thine be done."
Now why? Because God's will for you and me is our happiness and our good. God's will for you and me is that every moment of life will be lived to the full, full of happiness, full of peace, abundant, rich, interesting. I was about to say exciting but I don't know that continually exciting life would be the happiest best life at that. But I think there will be a certain amount of excitement in such a life. It will never be a dull uninteresting life. It will never be an empty life. It will be a life filled, filled with that which is interesting without a dull moment. You wouldn't have to start inventing pastimes just to pass away the time and get it over with.
Most people, you know, they're just trying to get this whole life over with, pass away the time until death can take them and they can get it over with. And yet, if they were threatened with death, they'd do anything in the world to keep from dying because of that instinct of self-preservation, if it is an instinct. And they want to live just as long as they can. Now, why is it? Aren't we rather contradictory? We try to just pass away the time, and so, we're not conscious of it, any way we can. You know why we have a lot of dope addicts, and do you know why some people smoke opium? It's just so it can put them out of the thoughts and the knowledge of their unhappy existence. And they get into some kind of a dream and it's a little more peaceful and they can pass that time more peacefully because life is such a burden to so many people.
Now, when life becomes a burden there's only one answer, there is only one reason, that's because you are not living it according to the laws of God. God's will is not to punish you! Most people think that sin is the happy way, the joyful way and God is some kind of a monster and God doesn't want you to enjoy yourself and so God is going to punish you if you do that which will make you happy! And God wants you to be poor and ignorant and unhappy and miserable and then He'll save you some day. Have you ever believed that kind of tommyrot? That's all it is, it's just a lot of tommyrot.
And a lot of people, they don't put it into that language. I just make things plain, my friends. I really make it plain. Thousands of people have written me and say, "Well, you can sure make things plain," Yes, indeed, I sure can. And other people say these things but they don't put it in the language I do. I'm making it a little plainer than they do, but you know that's what they believe. I wonder if you've believed it yourself. Let's be honest about it now and just look down in our own hearts. Turn that looking glass around, look into it and see. Don't accuse others. Don't judge others. Just look at your own self and see where you stand for a change. You know, a lot of you need to change. Yes, a lot of you need to. And a lot of you have. There are thousands of you listening that have changed and your whole lives have been changed from listening to this program. Thank God for that. That gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
Now, notice, Jesus went out to pray. I mentioned ago, He lived without sin and yet He was tempted. Now, He couldn't have been tempted if He wasn't mortal and if He didn't have human nature in Him the same as you do. He had the desire to do the wrong thing; He had the reluctance to do the right thing, the same as you and I, just exactly. In that sense, He had as much human nature as you and I, but He never sinned. Do you know the main reason? And do you know why that after you are converted and have the Holy Spirit and if you do and if you have the Spirit of God you have the Divine Nature implanted within you as well as human nature? And you've got those two natures the one striving against the other and your mind is independent of both of them and makes the decision. That's exactly the position that Jesus Christ was in and He was tempted. And you're tempted even after you are thoroughly converted. But you sometimes make some mistakes and do the wrong thing and Jesus never did and do you know the main reason? Well, here it is. ". . . he went out into the mountain to pray; and he continued all night in prayer to God." Have you ever done that? Have you ever prayed that much and that long? Have you ever been so in earnest that you prayed all night? As one of the prophets says back in the Old Testament of our people in this time — "they make empty prayers but they never put their heart in their prayers." We pray as a matter of form to impress other people, but we don't put our hearts into it. We're not in earnest. We're not sincere. Jesus was sincere. He was in earnest. He went out to a mountain alone to get away from people! There wasn't anybody looking on to be impressed except just God, just His Father God.
Another time, I think we came to that here just two or three days ago, He rose up early in the morning long before it was daylight and went out, was it to desert that time or a mountain? He went out to a private place to pray. You know what His teaching was, when you pray go into a private place to pray. You know what His teaching was? When you pray go into a private place and close the door and your Father which hears you in secret will reward you openly.
Now, here at Ambassador College in Pasadena, we have something that you won't find in very many other colleges. I don't mention this very often. We don't need to mention it and I certainly don't brag about it. But I'm happy about it. I know one of our students came here a few years ago. He is graduated from college. He's an ordained minister now. But when he came here his first year here, he said he was really surprised that some of the students seem to have disappeared and later they would just appear as if from nowhere and he didn't know where they'd been. And after a while, he began to find out. And he began to learn that many of our students around here were praying students. That's one reason, my friends, for the kind of young men and young women we're turning out here at Ambassador College. And neighbors and people around are astonished at them. They say they've never met such young people. And that's why I'm getting the kind of help now at last that I have needed for a good many years to help me in this work. And it doesn't come easy.
Well, how much do you pray? Do you pray at all? Or do you just make a little empty prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep . . ." and get it over with just as quick as you can so you can go to sleep and get it off your mind and get something else on your mind, is that the way you do? Maybe repeat the same old words over and over and you've repeated them so many times they don't mean anything. Well, we're going to see in just a . . ., I guess we won't get to it today, that old minute hand is getting up there. But nevertheless, I tell you my friends, you're not growing in any Christian life and you can't even be a real Christian at all if you're not devoting considerable time to prayer and you're losing out on it, most of you.
"Now it came to pass in these days, that Jesus went out into the mountain to pray . . ." I must hurry along, I want to get the reason for this before we close today's program. ". . . and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day . . ." Now the sun had risen and it's day. ". . . he called his disciples: and he chose from them twelve, whom he also named apostles . . ." Now, they were not really named apostles until later. They were now still students. But he called twelve that were to become apostles. You notice that He had prayed all night to God before He did that, before He came to the place of using the judgment to know whom to call and whom to choose of His disciples that had been following Him. He had called a number of disciples. We've been seeing that in past broadcasts back here in the early chapters of Matthew, Mark and Luke of how He had come along and He had called this one and that one and the other one and said follow me. And they had begun to follow Him. Now of those who were following, He called twelve and He prayed all night before He trusted Himself to have the wisdom to know which ones to call! And after that much communion with God, after that much prayer, He had the wisdom of God! And God says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraided not, and it shall be given."
I know that of all men, I had the least wisdom of anyone I ever knew. And I came to the place in the service of God when on many occasion I had to have wisdom and exercise it and I didn't have it naturally and I knew it! And I found I had to ask God for it and I found God will give it.
So, if we do make good decisions, exercise right judgment under such conditions, it isn't really we who are doing it, it is God in us. And He will do it.
Now then, it names them: "Simon, who also was called Peter, Andrew his brother; James, John, Philip, and Bartholomew and Matthew and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; and Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him."
Now, I want you to get this. Now we go back to Matthew's account in the 5th chapter. And here it continues on, "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he sat down, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying . . ." And now comes a surprise — the Sermon on the Mount. And He was teaching His disciples, not preaching to a great crowd!
Now before He got through, it is mentioned at the close that there was a crowd there! Apparently, the crowd arrived while He was preaching! But He was primarily teaching and started out teaching His disciples and the Sermon on the Mount is His teaching to them, not a sermon to the other people, believe it or not.
Now we'll pick that up in the next broadcast and I'll explain it and some marvelous things that He said there.