DID YOU ever attempt to relate some information to a lawyer, an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or an insurance investigator? Did you become irritated when every time you told a crucial part of the story he continuously interrupted and asked, "Now, how do you know that? Did you actually see that happen? Do you know that for a fact or did someone tell you?" It would seem that he was forever interrupting and never willing just to accept your statement of the way things happened. He insisted on getting to the ultimate source of the information. He only wanted the firsthand facts and was never willing to accept your assumptions. On the other hand, did you ever talk to someone who never bothered to question one iota of your story? To the contrary, whatever was said was accepted with, "Oh! Is that right?" or "Oh! I didn't know that." The difference is that in the first case you were dealing with a professional fact finder; in the second case, with a gullible gossip believer. The professional fact finder has learned through diligent training and experience that the majority of information that people relate is exaggerated, colored, misinterpreted, based on assumptions or just altogether false. He knows that in order to arrive at the actual truth of the matter, diligent inquiry is necessary to sift fact from falsehood. To these professionals, the comment "they say" does not establish the truth of a matter, but usually is a sure indication that the statement is pure gossip. On the other hand, the gullible gossip believer isn't interested in the facts or the truth of the matter. All he wants to hear is something interesting and exciting. It doesn't matter how false or inaccurate. He wants a story, usually derogatory, that he can relate to someone else. Then he can leave with the feeling that he knows something somebody else doesn't — no matter how erroneous it might be in fact. This elates and inflates his ego and vanity.
A Warning to Beware
In times past, certain people caused some to reject God's truth (II Tim. 2:16-18; Jude 4, 8, 15, 18). Such people are active today (II Pet. 2:1-3; 3:1-3; II Thess. 2:7). And Christ warns you to take heed, lest anyone deceive you (Matt. 24:4, 5). Then, as now, there was a great master professional behind them: inspiring them; using them. That great mastermind is Satan the devil (Rev. 12:10; II Cor. 4.4, 11:13-15). Satan has deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9). One device he uses is plain, bold-faced lies (John 8:44). He knows human nature and recognizes that one of its proclivities is to be a willing hearer of gossip and falsehoods (Jer. 5:30-31). There are many biblical examples of how gullible gossip believers fell victim to Satan by believing a lie against the truth. The following are just some of them: 1) The angels under Lucifer were duped into believing they could dethrone God (Isa. 14:12-15; Rev. 12:9). 2) Eve carelessly accepted Satan's explanation of the situation and rejected God's. She didn't make inquiry to ascertain truth from error. She carelessly assumed Satan was correct and reaped the disastrous penalty. 3) Noah preached of the impending Flood for 120 years (Gen. 6:3). During all this time the world had the witness of Noah's preaching and saw or knew about the construction of the Ark. The world, however, with the exception of eight people, rejected that witness. They accepted the lie that all things would continue as they were (II Pet. 3:4). 4) God's prophet told Ahab that he should not go to war, but Ahab rejected the warning and chose to believe a demoniacal lie that was in accord with his own physical desires (II Chron. 18).
"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies.... And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled." " Peter 2:1-2, RSV
5) A prophet of God chose to disobey a direct instruction from God. He chose to believe the lie of a false prophet; to believe that an angel could countermand God's command (I Kings 13). 6) Some individuals rejected the preaching of the apostles, and accepted the false teachings of those who claimed that the resurrection was already past (II Tim. 2:14-18). 7) Others believed such totally false doctrines that Peter was inspired to call such doctrines "damnable heresies" (II Pet. 2:1-2).
How Error Grows
The disastrous effect of believing lies, even through carelessness, is that it turns one from the truth (Titus 1:14). Do you grasp that even a little error, a little false doctrine, is like a cornerstone of a building? By
"... Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie." II Thes. 2:10-11
believing error you reject the truth of God on that particular point. That little bit of falsehood is like leaven. It begins to grow (Matt. 16:6). Soon a little more knowledge is built upon this foundation. Since truth does not fit with error, the additional building blocks of knowledge, built upon this initial cornerstone of falsehood, must be altered to fit the foundational error. So error grows until the person has built himself a fortress of falsehood — a bastion of error. And the pathetic truth is that he is deceived, and may actually believe he has built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, the apostles and the Bible (Eph. 2:20). In actual fact, he has built it upon sand (Matt. 7:26, 27).
Who Do You Believe?
God has given ample warnings against becoming a gullible gossip believer. He encourages you to become a professional fact finder. He is concerned because your salvation could be at stake — He wants to be certain that you don't believe a lie about the truth — and reap the dire consequences — without at least being warned. So God exhorts us to become professional fact finders: to test the spirits (I John 4:1); to prove all things (I Thess. 5:21); to study and acquire a thorough understanding of God's Word (II Tim. 2:15). He gives us the example of the Bereans, who searched the scriptures daily to prove whether or not the things they heard were true or false (Acts 17:10-12). The Bereans were professional fact finders. God clearly warns us that today there are a great many who speak evil of God's truth. They come with the grossest of errors, although they are often cloaked in subtleties. Unfortunately, some fervent gossip believers will accept what they say — without question — and never even attempt to seek out or test the truth of their accusations.
Many False Rumors
There are many different types of false charges that these messengers of Satan will bring. Much misinformation about this very Work of God has found its way into circles of gossip. Some have stated, for example, that this Work is financed by a single billionaire. This is absolutely 100 percent fallacious — unless you regard God as a "billionaire"! Mr. Armstrong has written numerous co-worker letters and editorials explaining how this Work is financed. It's clear for all who want to know, yet some would rather just believe a lie than learn the truth. The true facts are explained in our "How Your Subscription Has Been Paid" box on the next page. Other lies against this Work are even more gross and are not worthy of mention here. But gullible gossip believers are a simple target of Satan. It's as though they were hungry to hear some new negative misinformation about the Work! How simple it would be to ascertain the truth — just go to the source and ask. But they are more willing to believe a lie and fall under the very condemnation warned of in II Thessalonians 2:10-11. God says that people perished "because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." For this reason God sent "them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie."
God's Church Will Suffer Persecution
People who so readily accept unfounded gossip and slander against God's Work should realize that every time they hear an accusation it is strong evidence that this is the Work of Almighty God. Even a cursory examination of Scripture reveals that preaching the Word of God brings persecution and false accusations (John 15:20; Mark 10:30). God says "to speak evil of no man" (Titus 3:2); we are to lay aside all "evil speakings" (I Peter 2:1). God commanded His true Church to preach the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God to this world (Mark 16:15) and to feed the flock — the individual members of His body (John 21:15-17; I Cor. 12:12, 13). God's commission to His true ministers was not to go out and malign, ridicule, castigate and bring false charges against individuals. That is why this Work has never, and will never, use the powerful means of communication at its disposal — television, radio and the printing press — to malign and castigate other individuals. So do not assume that accusations against this Work are true just because The Plain Truth, The Good News, and The World Tomorrow program, are not taken up with continual denials. To do so would fall right into the hands of Satan. Becoming enmeshed in petty bickerings would cause the preaching of the gospel to go wanting.
What You Should Do
Withhold judgment when you hear an accusation brought against this Work. Don't judge according to appearances (John 7:24). Regardless of how innocent or malicious the accusation may be, know that it will sound convincing. "He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him" (Prov. 18:17). The inclination of humans is to believe the first story they hear; but a false story can be exposed for what it is if the accused is given an opportunity to tell his side. There is one more thing you might do — something that might prove very, very interesting. Write the accuser and challenge him to forward you copies from the source upon which he bases his accusations. Don't be satisfied with a mere "quote," but demand a copy of the article itself. We say this because many times antagonists severely editorialize the so-called "quote" so that it is an absolute misrepresentation of what we printed. Remember, we have been publishing written material for over forty years. Certainly there must be some written documentation upon which they can rely. If they do not forward you such requested documentation, it certainly should be, in and of itself, absolute proof that the accusations are totally untrue. In the event the accuser should forward some type of documentation, please don't just formulate your conclusion based upon it. Under any circumstances, come to the source and let us at least have an opportunity to explain the basis or circumstances surrounding the material. Don't believe derogatory charges against this Work without at least writing and presenting the charge to us. Then we will give you the true facts regarding the subject. Be a professional fact finder. Go to the source. Don't believe a lie about the truth!