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Mystery of the Ages
Plain Truth Magazine
July-August 1985
Volume: Vol 50, No.6
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Mystery of the Ages
Herbert W Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: July 31, 1892
Died: January 16, 1986
Member Since: 1928
Ordained: 1931
Office: Apostle

Herbert W. Armstrong founded the Worldwide Church of God in the late 1930s, as well as Ambassador College in 1946, and was an early pioneer of radio and tele-evangelism, originally taking to the airwaves in the 1930s from Eugene, Oregon.

Personal from Herbert W Armstrong

   I AM writing a new book titled Mystery of the Ages. It will appear serially for the next several months in The Plain Truth.
   Why have I written this book? Why is it so important now? In this Personal I would like to explain.
   I have lived a long, active, interest-packed life covering all of the 20th century to the present and the last eight and a half years of the 19th century.
   I have lived through the horse and buggy age, the automobile and industrial age, the air age, the nuclear age and now into the space age. I have seen America live through the agrarian age when farmers walked behind their horse-drawn plows singing happily, and into the urban age when Midwest American farmers are groaning and fighting for more government subsidies to prevent the extinction of farm life.
   I have seen this twentieth century develop into a state of awesome advancement and achievement industrially and technologically. At the same time I have seen alarming escalation of appalling evils, crime and violence and the crucible of nuclear war develop to threaten the very extinction of the human race within the present living generation. These conditions and facts are indeed mysteries that have remained unsolved and now need to be explained.
   I have traveled over the four quarters of this globe we call earth. I have rubbed shoulders with the rich and the poor and those in between. I have visited with captains of industry, emperors, kings, presidents and prime ministers. I have seen this world firsthand at close range as have only the very few.
   And through this long and pulsating eventful life I have asked myself many questions that were deep mysteries to me, and remain unanswered and unexplained mysteries to the world as a whole.
   At age 5, my father said I was going to be a Philadelphia lawyer when I grew up, because I was always asking so many questions about so many things. I wanted to UNDERSTAND. I craved UNDERSTANDING. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, desired wisdom, and God gave him wisdom above all others. After so many years I realize now that the same God has given me the UNDERSTANDING of life's deepest mysteries that remain an enigma in most minds.
   How did all this happen? I was reared in a Protestant church until the age of 18, but I never heard these plaguing questions explained in church. If the Bible reveals the answers, why so many denominations of Christianity and so much disagreement as to what the Bible says?
   But who can understand the Bible? I certainly never had understood it. And even if one does, can you believe the Bible? Does it speak with any authority? That question puzzled me. How I came to understand began in the year of 1926.
   In that summer I asked myself: "Who am I? WHAT am I? WHY am I?" I tried to reason out the answer, but I couldn't. It was a mystery. Then, that very autumn I was confronted with a mind-boggling challenge on a biblical question and the theory of evolution. This resulted in opening my mind to amazing vistas and depths of knowledge and understanding.
   It all started with the question of Sunday observance and the origin of man.
   I knew that the Bible was the world's number one selling book. Yet to me it had been an enigma. I could never understand it. I said, "The Bible says, 'Thou shalt observe Sunday.' " I was asked how did I know? Had I read that in the Bible?
   I answered that I knew because all the churches observe Sunday and I supposed the source of their teaching was the Bible.
   But my marriage was at stake on the question. I was forced into an in-depth study and research into the Bible and also into the theory of evolution, at that time rapidly gaining universal acceptance in the field of higher education.
   My in-depth study into the works of Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel, et al led me to question the authority of the Bible and even the existence of God. I was determined to find absolute proof of the existence of God and of the authority of the Bible, or to reject both. Most people, I realized, accept or reject a belief in either on careless assumption due to whatever they have heard, been taught, or assumed without proof. I wanted to understand. And I wanted to be sure on positive proof, not on careless assumption or wishful thinking.
   After many months of virtually night and day study, the answers were revealed to me with proof that was positive and absolute.
   I found the Bible to be a coded book, with answers to the paramount mysteries confronting all humanity. The revelation of these mysteries was lost, even to the Church of God, although the revelation of them has been preserved in the writings of the Bible. Why, then, has the world not clearly understood? Because the Bible was a coded book, not intended to be understood until our day in this latter half of the 20th century. I learned, in this night and day study, why it is the most misunderstood book, even though it is the world's best-seller.
   Vistas of knowledge and understanding were opened to my astonished eyes and mind that have remained the chief mysteries of life to most people. But it is recorded in that book that in these very days in which our generation lives, the great mystery would be cleared. And indeed it was to my astonished mind.
   I learned that the Bible is like a jigsaw puzzle—thousands of pieces that need putting together—and the pieces will fit together in only one way. Then the picture becomes crystal clear to the one willing to believe what God our Creator says.
   This present book merely puts the many pieces of the great puzzle together so they can be clearly understood.
   As you read and reread this book, compare constantly with your own Bible. See these truths with your own eyes in your own Bible. And open your mind to God's leading you into his TRUTH as you do. It will make a lot of sense as nothing ever did before.
   Time may prove this to be the most important book written in almost 1,900 years.
   Not because of literary excellence or flowery language of scholarship that it has purposely avoided, but because of its plainness of speech in clarifying the most important knowledge ever revealed from the supreme source of understanding of that which has mystified all humans since man first appeared on earth.
   This world's humanity has been blinded to who, what and why man is—how man appeared on earth. Man has been mystified by his inability to solve his problems, or find answers to the perplexing questions of mankind and the world he inhabits.
   All these mysteries were long ago revealed by the one supreme authority of all knowledge, but in a coded message not allowed to be revealed and uncoded until our time.
   The Church was infiltrated during the first century with another gospel; many false teachings and false churches under the name of "traditional Christianity" arose. As God reveals in Revelation 12:9, the whole world has been deceived. These basic truths have been kept a mystery. Even sincere and well-meaning men among the clergy have received their teaching from other men as handed down traditionally in these churches. They have assumed these false teachings to be the true teachings of the Bible, instead of putting the various scriptures, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, together in clarity and in truth. Even the world of a professed traditional Christianity has been deceived.
   It is hoped that this book, written since God's time for it has come, will open many eyes to the truth of these long hidden mysteries.


   DID you ever ask yourself: "Who am I? What am I? Why am I?"
   The world about you is a mystery. You yourself are a mystery. You have never seen your brain, the seat of your intellect and all that you are.
   Your life is engulfed in mysteries. When you reflect, your very existence is a mystery. Did you simply happen by unintelligent resident earthly forces without meaning or purpose, or were you intelligently designed and created by an all-powerful God of supreme mind for a purpose that also has been hidden in mystery? In fact, the persistent tradition throughout human history about the Creator God has been such a mystery that higher education in the Western World has sought to erase the mystery by giving virtually unanimous acceptance to the theory of evolution. The evolutionary theory has been invented by human minds in an effort to explain the presence of a creation without the existence of a divine Creator.
   And if the all-powerful God was your Maker, and exists as the divine Creator of all that is, then the mystery about God emerges, in order of time sequence, as the first and paramount mystery of all.
   Who and what is God? That is a mystery not understood by any religion, not explained by science, untaught by higher education. God reveals himself in his Word, the Holy Bible, yet almost none has understood it. The Bible, as the writer Bruce Barton said, is "the book that nobody knows." The Bible itself is the basic mystery that reveals all other mysteries.
   If the truth about God is mystery number one revealed in the Bible, assuredly the truth about angels and evil spirits is second in order. Is there, after all, a devil? Did God create a devil? If there are holy angels, what is their purpose and function? The Bible clearly states that this world is actually ruled by unseen principalities of evil spirits. Do evil spirits affect and influence humans and even governments today? Do evil spirits affect even your own life? This question seems enveloped in total mystery.
   Certainly third in order is the mystery of your own life—of humanity as a whole. What and why is humanity? Is man an immortal soul? Do the dead know what the living are doing? Is man a flesh and blood being with an immortal soul within? Is there meaning and purpose to human life? Did we evolve through unintelligent material forces without meaning or purpose? Why are humans beset with seemingly unsolvable problems?
   Fourth in line of the not-understood mysteries is the civilization that has developed in man's world. How did it develop? Why do we find a world of awesome advancement and progress, yet paradoxically with appalling and mounting evils? Why cannot the minds that develop spacecraft, computers and marvels of science, technology and industry solve the problems that demonstrate human helplessness?
   Next, in the development of human society on earth, is the mystery of the Jew and the ancient nation of Israel. Why did God raise up one special nation of Israel? Why are they God's "chosen people"? Are they God's favorites? Does God discriminate against other nations? Is God a respecter of persons? What is Israel's purpose in the divine order of things?
   Come now to the mystery of the church. Why should there be the institution of the church in the world? Is there some purpose for it, not understood even by the religion of traditional Christianity?
   Finally, why the mystery of the kingdom of God? Jesus' gospel message was "the kingdom of God." Is the kingdom of God something within each person? Is it something that may be set up in men's hearts? Is it the institution of the church? Or is it something else altogether? Why this mystery of the very gospel of Jesus Christ?
   These are the SEVEN GREAT MYSTERIES that concern the very lives of every human being on earth. The PLAIN TRUTH of all these mysteries is revealed in the Bible, but none of the churches or theologians seem to have comprehended them.
   WHY? The Bible is the basic mystery of all.
   If one begins reading the Bible continuously from beginning to end, one becomes bewildered. The Bible simply cannot be read like any other book. It is a mystery because it is a coded book. It is like a jigsaw puzzle, with perhaps hundreds of various pieces of different forms and shapes that can be fitted together in only one precise pattern. The truths of the Bible are revealed here a little, there a little, scattered from beginning to end, and revealed only through the Holy Spirit within those surrendered and yielded to God, willing to have confessed error and wrongdoing, and yielding to BELIEVE Christ, the Word of God. Jesus was the Word in Person. The Bible is the same Word in print.
   No one can have the Holy Spirit, which alone can open the human mind to understanding of this Word of God, without a complete repentance and an implicit belief in Christ as well as believing what he says. Repentance can only follow admission of being wrong—of wrongdoing and wrong believing. The most difficult thing for any human seems to be to admit being wrong—to confess error of belief and conviction.
   Is it any wonder, then, that the Bible is the book that nobody knows or understands?—or certainly almost nobody.
   God deliberately coded his book so that it would not be understood until our modern time. In the 12th chapter of Daniel we read even that devout man of God could not understand that which was given to him to write as part of the Bible. He said he heard, but understood not. The revealing angel said, "Go thy way, Daniel. The words are closed and sealed until the time of the end."
   Today we have reached that time. God has opened to understanding his Word to those he has chosen, who have yielded and surrendered to him and to his blessed sacred Word. In the 12th chapter of Daniel, it says at this time of the end the "wise" would understand, "but none of the wicked shall understand." Who, then, are the "wise" who may understand the Bible?
   "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps. 111:10) and "a good understanding have all they that do his commandments" (same verse). Yet traditional Christianity has generally denied God's commandments—says they are done away, nailed to the cross. The clergy and theologians of organized "Christianity," therefore, cannot and do not understand the Bible.
   How, then, can we, in this book, understand and reveal to the reader these boggling mysteries? That question will be answered in the Introduction next month.

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Plain Truth MagazineJuly-August 1985Vol 50, No.6
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