A few years back, a man who was eighty-two years of age came to me and said, "I've never heard the real plain why's and wherefore's of this thing we call salvation explained. I've never heard it explained so that it made sense."
You know, I think there are a lot of people like that, and there are a lot of people all over the United States, some of which take for granted a certain recipe of salvation that they have heard of, perhaps some of them something like a superstition, and there are many others that just scoff and sneer at the whole thing because it doesn't seem to make sense.
Now first, before you can understand this thing, that is quite a subject by the way, we have thousands upon thousands of churches here in the United States and yet we also have thousands and perhaps millions of people a few millions, at least that never go to church. They never darken the door of a church. You ask them, "What is your religion?" or "What are you religiously?" or "What denomination?" or something, they just say, "Oh, I'm nothing." It seems sort of foolish to them, or they get their minds on something else.
Now, just what is this thing that is called salvation? Does it make sense? You know, first of all you have to know what it is before you know why or wherefore or how it works. Now, many assume that salvation is merely God's effort to repair the damage that was caused by Adam's sin; that is usually phrased as "the fall of man." And so, as a result of what Adam did, we're supposed to be born in a fallen state. And God's effort at salvation is assumed by a great many people. I don't think they ever look into it very deeply, but they just sort of have the vague idea that God's effort at salvation is God's effort to do the best He can to restore us to a condition as good as Adam was before the fall. In other words, God had completed His creation. Everything was perfect.
They look back here in the very first chapter of Genesis and, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth", (Genesis 1:1) and the very last verse of that first chapter says that, "God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good," (Genesis 1:31) and they assume God had completed all creation. God's through creating; now He's gone off to do something else. Or, He's like the Professor Emeritus: He once did great things way back there when He created the earth, but He's grown old and feeble now and doesn't do very much anymore. At least God doesn't seem to be around in the conceptions of most people. Although, you know, we don't think of it specifically. We don't stop to get these things out and analyze what we do think, what we do believe. We don't stop to set them down and look at them and really stop to think about them, or to investigate to see whether there is any truth to what we believe, or whether we've ever proved it, or whether it makes sense, whether there's any real reason to it.
Prove All Things Can you prove it? Can you prove what you believe? You know, most of you, my friends, believe just what you've heard and what you've taken for granted, or what you've been taught from a child. You've accepted it, it's somehow gotten into your mind. And it's been received either through your ears or through your eyes, or through one of the five senses, and it's found lodgment there in your mind, and you've accepted it, but you've never stopped to really analyze it. You've never stopped to, well, get all the facts and see if you could prove it on sort of a scientific basis.
Now, I will say this, my friends, if you can't prove some of these things and prove them by the very methods that we would call scientific methods, I think we shouldn't have very much stock in it. You know, the Bible itself tells you in the fifth chapter of I Thessalonians "Prove all things." (I Thessalonians 5:21) )
Now, it makes no exceptions. It doesn't say prove everything except the Bible and just take it on a gullible faith. No, it says, "Prove all things." How many of you ever stop to prove whether the Bible is the actual inspired revelation to man by a creator who is the supreme God that created everything that is and has knowledge infinitely beyond anything that man can possess, and has revealed His will, and has revealed knowledge through the scriptures to man and that every word of the Bible is inspired by that God? Now, do you believe that? Well, some of you do, and some of you don't.
Now, if you've been brought up in the world of science instead of in a certain religious world, you've probably just... you've always been taught that the Bible is not the word of God, and you assume that it is not, and so you reject it. If you've been brought up in church circles, religious circles, you probably assume that the Bible is the word of God that is, if you've been brought up in fundamentalist church circles. But have you ever proved it? And if you are a man of science, if you've been brought up in the world of science, you believe in proving things. The men of science do try to be very cautious and very careful, and their criteria seems to be that they shall not accept anything unless they have made test after test, they have sought proof after proof and put it to the proof.
Now, you men in the world of science, have you ever proved that the holy Bible is not the word of God? No, you haven't. You've just assumed it wasn't. You've thrown it out the window, out of doors without a thought. You haven't applied scientific methods to that. But, on the other hand, you fundamentalist Christians you just swallow hook, line and sinker the idea that the Bible is the inspired word of God. But have you ever stopped to prove it? No, most of you haven't, or a very few of you have. But there are a number of proofs. You could prove it.
Let me tell you something. When I was aroused you can call it "called of God" or, if you're skeptical, you can just say that my mind was aroused on these things, as you please my mind was really stirred on this question, and I began to look into it, and I began to study into the Bible to prove a certain thing, rather to disprove a certain thing, as a matter of fact. And I thought I knew what the Bible said because I thought it said what all the churches claimed it said about a certain thing that had come up that had became a very contentious and a very heated argument in my home.
Well, I wanted to put the argument down once and for all, and so I said, "You can't tell me that all these churches could be wrong, and I know that the Bible says what they all say, and I'm going to search to prove it." And so, that started me. It was a challenge. I started studying the Bible. I started studying history. I started studying science. I started looking into these things. Now, one of the first things I had to prove in that study was whether there is a God. I began to ask myself, now let's not kid ourselves about these things. Let's not assume; let's not take things for granted.
Why, way back when I was... one of my early jobs on a national magazine, I think I was about age twenty, and my immediate superior, the head of my department in that magazine, called me in one day. He said, "Herbert, let me tell you something. You've got one very bad fault." I said, "What's that?" "Well," he said, "You just take things for granted." You don't stop to prove; you just assume. You're taking a lot of things for granted." He said, "In this magazine we can't do that."
I had to ask him to explain what he meant. It didn't seem to sink in at first. Finally, he made me see that I was just believing what I had heard, assuming what I supposed or had read or heard, and that I should really put these things to the proof. So, that woke me up, and I began to try to prove things.
Well, it was years after that that I got into this study of the Bible. Now, I said, "How do I know that the Bible itself has any authority? Is there any God behind it in the first place? Can we prove scientifically whether God exists?"
Well, I went into a proof of that and a little later a communist who was an avowed atheist, was brought up to my office. He had said to a friend, "I'd like to meet that man. I'd make a monkey out of him. I'd prove evolution is true by making a monkey out of him and proving to him that there is no God." And he was brought up to my office to prove it to me.
Well, we didn't use any Bible because he wouldn't believe in that anyhow. So I said, "Let's get into the realm of science, and let's consider a few scientific facts that are demonstrated in scientific laws that have been proved, and every scientist knows that these things are true." When we got through, this man, rather weakly like a whipped dog, said, "Well, I'm not going to believe in that God that, even if you do make me admit that He exists." Yes, this communist atheist admitted that God existed when we got through.
Now, I had proved it to myself. I proved it to him. But I had the proof, and I was able to make this man admit it against his own will. Of course, he was still defiant. I told him, "That's your right and privilege whether you want to accept this God or obey Him or anything of that sort. But you have admitted He exists. You know now there is a God."
Well, I had to prove to myself whether I could believe the Bible when I read it or not. Having proved to my satisfaction, and I have proved it to the satisfaction of many others that there is a God, the next thing was: Is the Bible His inspired word? Now, I didn't assume it, my friends, I wouldn't take it for granted. I proved it
The Proof Of Prophecy There are many lines of proof and one of them is prophecy fulfilled prophecy. And that's one, let me tell you, that no agnostic, no atheist, no skeptic has ever tried to disprove! They can't do it. There is a great deal of prophecy that was intended to be fulfilled prior to this time and has been fulfilled, hundreds of years, even thousands of years after the prophecy was written. And it stands there as a living proof and as a daring challenge to the skeptics as to whether a man wrote a prophecy way back there and was able to bring it to pass or whether a god did, and whether the Bible is that word, and whether this word stands. There's a great deal of prophecy that stands fulfilled.
Great cities that were the great cities, teaming metropolises, way back there, as great in the world of that day as New York and London are, and Paris in today's world, some of them in the Bible, did a man write it or did God write it? He said, "This city will be destroyed and will never be rebuilt. It will be a desolate ruin and no man will ever dwell where this city is." And other cities He said, "They will continue, but they're going to be invaded, and they're to change hands, and they're going to be a subject people", or "they're going to be greatly diminished." And in every case it's happened exactly as whoever or whatever was writing this in this word said hundreds and thousands of years before it happened.
Now, there are many prophecies yet to be fulfilled. Can you believe them? Well, if you don't believe what's already happened I don't think you would. Now, very few people set out to really prove these things, and most people think that this thing we call salvation is just God's rather feeble and pitiful effort to restore the damage done by what we call "the fall of man" and to make us as good as Adam was before he fell.
God Is Reproducing Himself Very few people know what salvation is. You could read it here if you would read the very first chapter of Genesis. It's explained right here.
"... God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and [the] creeping thing, and [the] beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so." (Genesis 1:24)
And it's still so today. You know when a cow has a little calf, it's right after the same kind. It's just like its father and mother, and it's the cow family, if you call it a family. And no matter what it is, all of the dumb brutes they bring forth "after their kind." And there is no missing link, and there is no scientific evidence that any has ever changed from one kind to another or bridged the gap from one species over into another! There's a theory about it, but there is no proof. Absolutely none. So:
"...God made the beast of the earth after his kind, [the] cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:25)
And it's continued on to this day the same shape, the same form, same image, same likeness, each one. Cat has little kittens; they grow up to be cats. A horse has a little colt; grows up to be a horse. Same thing all the way through.
"And [then] God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." (Genesis 1:26)
In other words, the word for God there is Elohim, and it is a plural noun. It means more than one person. It's a word like the word family: one family, but composed of two, three, ten, twelve members, or whatever number it may be of persons, making the one family. "One church," as we read in the Bible, it's explained over in, let's see, first Corinthians the twelfth chapter: "many members," but the "one body." (verse 12)
It's only one church. It isn't many churches just one church where some of us today, in this day and age, seem to think there're lots of churches and that God's all divided. God's got Himself all divided 'round here and that they're all... one's as good as another. "Just join the church of your choice." We hear a lot of that.
But in the Bible you read about one church. You don't read of one church divided into many different sects, or denominations, or divisions, either. Just one church's all you read of in the Bible now, many members, however. And in prayer of Jesus Christ in the Bible, if you believe it, Jesus prayed that the church would be one in the same manner that He and the Father are one God.
He was praying to the Father. He said He was one with God. They said He blasphemed the Pharisees because He made Himself God. (John 10:33-36) Well, He quoted it from the Psalms that, "you say that you are gods," (Psalm 82:6) where human beings had been called "gods." He says, "You say that I blaspheme when I make myself, God?" He said He was a son of God. If He's the son of God then He was God. A son of a human being is a human being, not a dog, a cat or a cow, my friends. You know that. But you know, when we come to this subject of religion in the Bible, we get a lot of superstition and a lot of things that don't make sense, and we just can't believe the truth.
Now, Elohim is one God, but it includes more than one person. "And [so] God said, Let us [not let me, "us," more than one person, "let us"] make man in our image..." (Genesis 1:26)
"Let us reproduce ourselves just like ourselves and so that one that is begotten and born of us then will grow up to be just like we are: like God." There is the very purpose of God, my friends: to reproduce Himself. Now, Adam was only made of the dust of the ground, you read in the second chapter of Genesis and the seventh verse: "The Eternal God formed man of the dust of the ground," (Genesis 2:7) not of spirit. He formed man "of the dust of the ground." And then, if you'll turn over here in your New Testament, into I Corinthians, the fifteenth chapter, you read about that first man that was made of the dust of the ground.
"...it is written [that] the first Adam [the first man, Adam] was made a living soul..."(I Corinthians 15:45)
The Hebrew word for that was nephesh. And all the animals are called nephesh, too. Nephesh: animal life. He was made a "living animal life." That's what it literally means. "...the last Adam [which refers here to Jesus Christ] was made a quickening spirit." (I Corinthians 15:45)
That means immortal God spirit. That's exactly and precisely what it means. Now: "The first man is of the earth, earthy..."(I Corinthians 15:47)
Yes, man was made of the dust of the ground. Why, God didn't make Adam like Himself in that respect. He was made in the same image, the same form, the same shape as God, but not of the same material because you read in the fourth chapter of John, that "God is a spirit," (John 4:24) if you believe the Bible is His word, if God is speaking, if God is revealing about Himself.
How do you know what God is? You don't, unless you take it as God reveals it. I mean apart from the word of God, if the Bible is not the revelation of God, then you don't know because you have no way of knowing. There's no way science can determine.
You know, the astronomer says, "I have peered through my telescopes I have literally swept the heavens with telescopes that enable my eyesight to peer way into great, vast distances and bring them close up. And I've searched the heavens in seeking God. I've looked for Him everywhere, but I've never found Him. He's always eluded me." Well, He's always going to elude such an astronomer until the astronomer wakes up and realizes who and what God is. He can prove God even though he can't see Him. I suppose he would take that same telescope and search the heavens for the power of gravity and he'd say, "I've never seen it." You can't see the power of gravity, so, of course, it doesn't exist, does it?
Now, "the first man is of the earth, earthy." He's not made out of spirit. But, if you can believe the Bible, God reveals Himself that He is Spirit. Of course, I can defy any scientist to disprove that because no scientist can know anything about it. Science knows only about material things, and God is not material. God is spirit, but God created matter and material substance. Now, He made man of material substance out of the earth and: "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. [That's spiritual.] As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy..." (I Corinthians 15:47-48)
Now, Jesus said to Nicodemus, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." (John 3:6) That which is born of human is human. That which is born of the spirit is spirit. That which is born of God is God. Whatever you are born of that's what you are. I suppose if a piano or a chair, if something could be born of them, a chair... it would be a chair born of a chair, only they can't beget. Well, when a dog is born of a dog, it's a dog. It's not a horse. It's not a cow or a snake. It's not a human being. When you're born of man, you're man. You're born of the flesh, you're flesh, earthy, of the earth.
"As is the earthy, such also are they that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are [also] they that are heavenly." (I Corinthians 15:48)
But listen, why should I read anymore of this? It isn't making sense to most of you now, honestly, is it? Because you've always heard and assumed without proof just the contrary. You've believed that man is spirit and that man is only in a body that is made of matter. Now, it doesn't say back there that God made a house for man to get into of the dust of the ground and put a spirit man inside of it. It didn't say that back in Genesis 2:7, but that's what you think! So, why should I read the scriptures to you? You don't believe it now, honestly, do you?
You know, I started out by proving whether this is true, and now I have proved it. I've proved it in many ways. I proved it by science. I proved it by fulfilled prophecy. I proved it just by a law of common sense too because I found common sense and wisdom in this book that I'd never seen in any other.
Wisdom Of Proverbs You know, I knew a lawyer. He's dead now, but he was, in his day, the leading, I'm sure he was acknowledged, the leading corporation lawyer up in Portland, Oregon. And he was one man that, as you say in the vernacular, I considered him, and a good many others did, a "wise old owl." He had a sharp tongue. I'd hate to be on the witness stand with him on the opposition's side cross-examining me. And that man seemed to have a lot of wisdom.
Now, he wasn't a Christian. He didn't believe in Christianity. He didn't believe in any salvation or anything of the kind. No, he didn't believe those things. But you know, he kept a Bible in his desk, and I saw it every time he'd open his desk. I'd see a Bible there.
I asked him one day why he kept that Bible there. He says, "Just for one book in it." He says, "That Book of Proverbs has more wisdom than any thing I've ever seen. I read that book of Proverbs." He says, "I occasionally read in other portions. I find a lot of wisdom in it, more wisdom in the Bible than any book that's ever been written."
Yes, even Elbert Hubbard with all of his bragging of his wisdom, he never could have claimed that he had... Well, I think he would have claimed it. I knew Elbert Hubbard. I knew him well enough to believe he might have claimed it. I never asked him that question, but he probably would have claimed that he had more wisdom than Solomon. But he didn't, you know. Solomon knew a few things about spiritual things. Elbert Hubbard didn't. He had a lot of wisdom about just natural things in this world, and all that sort of thing, but that was all.
Now, if you can believe this, this is the word of God. You better prove whether it is or not. I've proved it. I can't prove it to you. You'll have to prove it to your own satisfaction. I'm not trying to argue you into anything because I know I can't do it. But I wanted to know, do you? I went after the proof and I found the proof, and I know. I'm not guessing. Now, you can know. You don't have to guess.
Future Immortality "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne..."(I Corninthians 15:48-49)
What image now did God make man in? God did make man in His own image, but what image? He made him as the dust of the ground. He made him in the form and shape of God, and that's all. Listen: "...as we have borne the image of the earthy [OF the earth, earthy, made of the dust of the ground, and that's the image we have borne], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (I Corinthians 15:49) "We" meaning Christians.
"We" in New Testament language always refers to those that have repented of their transgressions of God's law, that have surrendered to God unconditionally, have come to Him by Jesus Christ, have received His spirit, have been begotten as His sons. It isn't speaking of anyone else when it says "we."
"... as we have borne the image of the earthy, we [also] SHALL [not do now, but we shall] also [that's yet in the future] bear the image of the heavenly." (I Corinthians 15:49)
Then he goes on to explain that, "... flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." (Verse 50) We're flesh and blood, Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." (John 3:6) We are flesh and blood.
"... neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep..."(I Corinthians 15:50-51)
Now, in Bible language that means "be dead." Of course, some people will accuse God here inspiring the Apostle Paul, or the Apostle Paul, of being soul sleeper. Well, I don't know about that one way or the other. But believe as you will, nevertheless, the meaning here is, where it says sleep, the meaning is being dead.
"Now this I say, brethren, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God..."(I Corinthians 15:50)
A lot of people think that the Church is the Kingdom of God and anyone that is in the Church and joined the Church is in the Kingdom of God they have inherited the Kingdom of God. Are they flesh and blood? Well, then they're not in the Kingdom of God. A flesh and blood person can be an heir to the Kingdom of God but has not inherited his heritage. He is only an heir in this life.
"... neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be CHANGED." (I Corinthians 15:50-51)
Oh, we're going to be changed! As we bear the image now of the earthy, we shall bear the image of the heavenly.
"That which is born of flesh is flesh; that which is born of the spirit [born of God], IS spirit." (John 3:6) IS God!
Believe it or not that's what your Bible says. And I don't believe one in a million of you people listening can even conceive what I am speaking about because your minds can't seem to entertain it. It's completely beyond you! It's too BIG for you! You can understand the destiny of the human race IF we would yield to God Almighty.
"Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (I Corinthians 15:51)
Changed from what to what? From being earthy, of the earth, into being heavenly, of the heavenly; from mortal matter into divine, eternal, immortal spirit; from man, from humanity, into God, into divinity. Is that too big for you, my friends? That's what your Bible says. Do you believe it?
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: [it's going to happen this change is going to take place] for... the dead shall be raised incorruptible, [that means immortal] and we [if we're alive at that time of the second coming of Christ] we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, [corruptible means made of matter subject to change, rotting, decaying] and this mortal [which we are now] must put on immortality. [that's at the change] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, [that's in the future] and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." (I Corinthians 15:52-54)
There, my friends, is what salvation is. I didn't have time to even start going into how do you get it. And there are all kinds of ideas about that at least fifty-seven varieties none of which are true.
Now, let's get the truth of it, and read of it in The Plain Truth. Why don't you write in for our little booklet, "What Kind of Faith is Required for Salvation?" A lot of you've been deceived. You think you're saved, and you're no more saved than a puppy dog, actually. Now, I don't mean that in an insulting way. I just want to wake you up. It's a challenge. I've never said anything with more love in my life. And I hope you'll write in for this booklet, "What Kind of Faith is Required for Salvation?" and see. It won't hurt you to put it to the proof and see whether you're on safe ground. And that booklet on "Predestination". If you want to understand predestination, we have a booklet. It's all free; no subscription price.
Just send your name and address to: Herbert W Armstrong, Pasadena, California, Herbert Armstrong, Pasadena, California. Until tomorrow, goodbye friends.