Born: July 31, 1892
Died: January 16, 1986
Member Since: 1928
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.
My friends, very few of us know anything about the World Tomorrow. We don't know too much about the world today and the why of it and what's causing all of the eruption in this world today. You know, it's amazing when you come to understand — why this world could be in such darkness today and looking upon the Bible as a book of superstition; because they don't know what it says. The Bible doesn't say what most people believe it says. It doesn't say what a great many are teaching that it says at all. Very few people know what salvation is. Very few people know the way of salvation. Very few people know why they're here on this earth. Very few people know the great purpose being worked out here below. And why God put humanity on the earth. And what salvation really is. The Result Of Solomon's Achievements What Are You Striving For? Solomon's Pursuit Of Happiness Wisdom And Understanding Learning Life's One True Purpose Why Were You Born? — Booklet
Now, coming to the third chapter of Hebrews, in this great priesthood book, understood by almost no one, that explains what our real ultimate destiny is. Although God has made us free moral agents, God has said, "I set before you life on the one hand; death on the other." (Deuteronomy 30:19 paraphrased) On the one hand, is a way of life that leads to blessings and everything good, a full abundant life, a happy life that is free from fears and worries, and on the other hand, the kind of life, disobeying laws that are in motion, laws that are living, moving, spiritual principles. Spiritual energies. And bringing curses upon ourselves. Until, this world not knowing that, has come to a place where it is miserably unhappy, where lives are barren and desolate of anything worthwhile, they're empty. And the things that seems so good, and that people devote all their time and energy chasing and trying to achieve and trying to receive and trying to participate in, even when they achieve the kind of success or the accomplishment that they desire and spend a lifetime trying to gain; it leaves them empty. They find it didn't pay after all.
And so this life, my friends, and a great deal of which looks upon Christianity as a superstition, is itself an empty life. And chasing after the things that the world is in this life that most people think are practical. The things that are supposed to be the real practical things, and supposed to be the things that pay off, when you find them, you're just like Solomon said he was. And I don't know of any man today that has rolled up the big fortune or has really lived the life like old Solomon did way back there.
Solomon worked hard. He accumulated a great fortune. He lived in luxury and splendor such as perhaps no man ever did. And, mentally, he had a great mind and he was a man that has been rated as the wisest man who ever lived. And there's great satisfaction in mental accomplishments and in having wisdom. Having wisdom to make right decisions. Think of the vanity that the man can puff himself all up with and swell all up with when he has it. But after Solomon went in for all of those things, you know my friends, it left him empty. And he said that it was just like chasing after a handfull of wind and catching up with it, that's about all. It was just like looking for some wind. And devoting your whole life, and you got a hand of wind and what is it? Take your hand away and where is it? "Vanity of vanities," [he said] "All is vanity... What does the man gain by all the toil... a generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever." (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3) [RSV throughout unless otherwise specified]
You know, you hear a lot about the end of the world. Is this world coming to an end? Yes, it is! But, here in the Bible it says the earth remains forever. Is there any contradiction? Not at all. Because what's coming to an end is not the earth, but the world and world is merely the system and the way of life that men have built up on this earth that is making millions of lives miserably unhappy. Now listen, if you want something that is real practicality, listen just a minute. Here's something that is practical. Let's get down to this thing and see what does pay off and what does make life worthwhile.
Solomon wrote here in Ecclesiastes. He had a lot of wisdom. He knew more than you know so don't think you know more than he did, because you don't, I don't care who you are. He knew more than anybody that's lived, there's none of you listening to me that knows more than old Solomon. He was a wise old owl, or wise old man anyhow. What has been, he said, is what will be. What has been done, is what will be done. There's "nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9) You understand that? That's true if you understand what he meant. Now, he said, "I applied my mind, to seek and to search out by wisdom, all that is done under heaven;" (Ecclesiastes 1:13) He wanted to know all about life. But he concluded all is vanity and the striving after wind.
Now do you know that very principle is contrary to the law that God Almighty set in motion? And when you try to do that and try to live that kind of life, you're cracking and breaking a law that's going to break you. That law is there. That law is inexorable, it's invisible, you don't see it. You don't see the law of gravity either that pulls anything down to the ground if you hold it up and then let loose. But it's there. And that law works. And this law works.
You know, I knew a man that at least admitted himself that he was a great philosopher, and some of the great and the near great of the United States thought he was, Elbert Hubbard. I was a young man then, of course. He went down on the Lusitania before World War I, but I knew Elbert Hubbard quite well. I spent a lot of time talking with him. He said, "Get your happiness out of your work." Well, he didn't know anything about the spiritual laws that had been set in motion, he knew absolutely nothing about them but he was pretty wise along material lines only. And, he did know that you get your happiness out of your work. Fact I was visiting him over at his place in East Aurora, New York, one time. And, he put me to work, wrapping up what he was selling then at a very fancy profit; he knew he was selling it for more than they were worth. He got a big kick out of that, as a matter of fact. And, he called them goody boxes for Christmas presents. He had a lot of Irish potatoes. Well, they were very select potatoes. But he wrapped them up in tissue papers to make them look nice and fancy so he could charge about three or four times the price they were worth for them. And make them look like a nice gift box. He put me to work wrapping potatoes in tissue paper. He wanted to know what I thought, of a man that would have another man come visit him as a guest and he had his hotel or his inn there and I was a paying guest. He charged me a very nice price for a very good lunch, tried to get me to stay all night and pay for a nice room or nice suite or something, which I didn't do, I had to get back to Buffalo that night. But we spent most of the day together and he said, "I charge you for everything you get around here and then I put you to work and I don't pay you any wages now what do you think of me as a host?" Well, I said who was that philosopher that said, "Get your happiness out of your work!" And he had a good laugh at that.
Well, my friends, that's the only way you're ever going to get happiness is out of accomplishment. And out of active effort, but active effort that is spent in a direction where it's going really to accomplish something and not just chasing after wind. Now, there's a lot of sense in this if you can just get it. Here Solomon said "I said to myself, Come now, I will make a test of pleasure." (Ecclesiastes 2:1) Enjoy yourself, he said to himself. Then he said, "I made great works. I built houses, and planted vineyards for myself." (Ecclesiastes 2:4) Oh, he was looking out for number one. He didn't care about the other fellow. He was looking after number one. He taxed the people, he was the King. He had the ability to tax the people. He taxed them until they couldn't bare their burdens any longer. They rejected his son, when his son refused to lighten their tax burdens. People didn't like taxation then anymore that you like it today. But nevertheless, it costs money to keep government going and it did in those days too. But, Solomon not only kept the government going, he taxed them so much that he could have a lot of pleasures for himself, but went clear beyond that of any king on earth at the time.
He says "I made great works, I built houses and planted vineyards, for myself; [not for his kingdom, not for his people, but for himself.] I made myself gardens and parks, I planted in them all kind of fruit trees. [and beautiful trees] I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees." (Ecclesiastes 2:4-6) See, he knew something about irrigation, way, way, way back there, hundreds of years before Christ.
Wine, women and song. You know, Solomon had one thousand women. (I Kings 11:3) Now, God set a law in motion, my friends. God intended a man to have one wife. And God set a law about this thing of male and female and being joined as husband and wife. That if a man will just take the one wife that he is in love with and be true to her, she becomes a great joy to him. And he loves her more and more as the years go by if they understand God's laws and if they are true to one another and exercising the laws of God and the laws of marriage as God intended.
But you know, when a man thinks well, I believe I'd be happier with a lot of women. And I've known men in my lifetime who had beautiful wives they were very much in love with. But they think they want to begin to play around, as they say. They want to, as they say, cheat on the wife and the wife doesn't know it. That's one of the things that human nature somehow seems to think would be nice to some men and it's part of the forbidden fruit. They seem to think God is a monster and God's laws are bad for us and of course they know that God's law says that adultery is a sin. But naturally a lot of men that are foolish and silly and have no sense in their heads, begin to think that's just some decree God wrote on a piece of paper. And maybe He won't catch 'em at it. They don't realize that's the law that God set in motion that is going to break you if you break it.
Alright I've known men, who thought that was an alluring thing and that the forbidden fruit was sweeter and so they thought it would be nicer to have several women instead of just one. Course, the wife didn't know it but they were stepping out with other women. They were committing a lot of adultery. And then all of a sudden those men would come to me, they used to in my earlier years when I knew some men of that sort, and they would say, "Well, you know... I don't know what's happened but my wife is... well she's just repugnant, repulsive to me. She doesn't seem like she used to any more. I don't know why. But, she's not attractive; I don't love her anymore." Well, they didn't love any of these other women they're chasing around with either. Except they thought they did. Until they had committed adultery with them. And then they didn't. Then they were an unclean thing just like an old filthy dirty rag. And there wasn't any women that was really attractive in their eyes.
Well, those men divorced. They married and then they divorced. I met one of them not so many years ago that I had known just like that. He'd had two or three wives. He was very unhappy, his life had never been happy, and he had missed the joys that God has given me. I talk about it, once in a while. But it is one of the laws of God and I want to tell you my friends, it pays off. And I want to tell you my friends that God has given us some wonderful laws if we'll go according to them, they'll pay off. They can make you very happy. Oh, I know, there are some thorns on the beautiful rose bushes sometimes. And, I suppose most marriages have their little unpleasant parts. That's only because of human nature; we let our own natures get in the way, that's all. But God has set laws in motion that if we'll observe them we'll get over all of those things and you'll go along and marriage can be very happy. Marriage can be very beautiful. And love is something that can just deepen and deepen as the years go by. Oh, don't throw it away.
I tell you, these people that say that the laws of God are done away, the laws of God are nailed to the cross. The law against adultery, the law that says you must be true to one wife. That's a very good law. Why don't you practice these laws of God. That's just one of them. Everyone of them, my friends, they really mean something. This is a practical way of life. A lot of people that think things that are practical that just means how can you get money, how can you take it away from the other fellow. Or, how can you get the things that are illicit and they're inordinate and that God has forbidden. Things that are illegal according the laws of God.
Now, here Solomon had his thousand women. What wonderful happiness Solomon threw away. In all of this thing, of all of his extravagances, in all of his great position and his wisdom, Solomon didn't have enough wisdom to even understand to know about the Law of God. Now, Solomon wanted wisdom, God gave it to him. Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge and make decisions in certain cases. But, I don't know whether Solomon had such great wisdom after all.
Now, Solomon said, "So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also, my wisdom remained with me." (Ecclesiastes 2:9) You know, I almost question that. But he said that. Solomon said it, he said it under inspiration. That doesn't necessarily mean though that God who inspired him to say it, endorsed what he said. I think that him having a thousand women here and all these concubines, he didn't have as great wisdom as he might have had because God's law pays off if you observe it. God set the laws and they are laws that are living and they're in motion. And when you break them, I want to tell you, they're going to break you. Now, they don't always break you just, you know, the first second or the first day or the first year or two but sooner or later they're going to break you.
I know a man, a man that I knew pretty well. He wasn't getting along with his wife. I spent years trying to show them the way. To heal that breach that they could be happy. They weren't able to meet each other half way. Each one said, let the other one do..., it's the other one that's wrong. Oh, it was about fifty-fifty, one was about as wrong as the other. Each one could see the wrongs of the other, there was plenty wrongs to see. And each one could see only the wrongs and the faults of the other. She said, "Let him correct himself, then maybe I'll think about it." He said, "Let her get right and let her correct what's wrong with her. Let her control that sharp, snappy tongue of her's", and all that sort of thing." Well, finally he ran off. My friends, you can't cheat these laws of God and get away with it. Nobody does. Maybe you don't believe that.
Now, Solomon said here, "So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Whatever my eyes desired, I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure." (Ecclesiastes 2:10) He just gave himself every pleasure. "For my heart found pleasure in all my toil..." (Ecclesiastes 2:10) A lot of people don't have the wisdom to know that there's pleasure in good honest hard work. But he knew that. He even got a pleasure there that a lot of you people haven't ever learned how to get. "...and this was the reward of all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done, and the toil that I had spent in doing it." (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11) When he got to be an old man, now and here were years of efforts, here was a lifetime of a man that became great so that was none like him in the earth, "and behold, all was vanity and the striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:11) Nothing more to be gained. Just vanity and a striving after wind. What did he have, maybe a hand full or a box full of wind. What is it? There's plenty of it around anyhow, you can catch it without going too far.
"So, [he says] I turned to consider wisdom, and madness and folly; for what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done." (Ecclesiastes 2:12)
Isn't anything more for him to do. My friends, until you find the real values of life, until you come to recapture the true values. That incidentally is the slogan of Ambassador College here in Pasadena, California. "Recapture True Values". Until you come to do that, you don't know what life's all about and you don't know how to live it. You don't know how to make it happy. Life can be mighty precious if you learn how.
Well, Solomon finally says "So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me; for all is vanity and the striving after wind." (Ecclesiastes 2:17) Striving, striving, striving, what are you striving for, my friends. You're working hard. You've got some goal, what is your goal? If your goal is anything less that to attain to the resurrection of the dead in the Kingdom of God, as a glorified divine son of God, born again into the Kingdom of God; if you have any goal less than that, you're striving after wind. And when your life is over, and when all of your effort has been expended, you'll look back on it and realize that you've had an empty life. You had a fruitless life. You are a miserable failure. And, someday your conscience is going to catch up with you. You're going to realize you've had this one life to live; this one mortal human life and you've thrown it away. And you've wasted it. What good is it?
Very few know what God has in store for us. Listen, if I have or I don't have time for very much more, Solomon said, "I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man that will come after me." (Ecclesiastes 2:18) And that's the way you will be if you are just looking at material rewards and selfishness and greed and vanity and puffing yourself up. Where will you be?
Listen I knew the president of the biggest bank in the United States outside of New York. A great bank. Also, I knew the man who was two steps higher than the president of the biggest bank in New York that became the biggest bank in the world, before a California bank out here got bigger in recent years. I was in the city of each of these banks. I went into each one of them and I asked officers, what about so and so and what happened to him. Why, they didn't even remember that he'd ever existed. Greatest men in the United States. They spent their lives building great banks! Big ones! World known! Today, they aren't even known in the institutions they built.
There is no reward under heaven worthwhile but to obtain salvation in the Kingdom of God when you learn what it is. The very purpose for which you were born was to learn that lesson. And to come to surrender to God as living ruler over your very daily life. To receive the very divine nature of the Eternal God. And to yield to permit God to develop in you His righteousness, His very character so that you shall be born of Him. God help you to understand.
As a matter of fact, very few understand the plan. Very few understand the purpose. Very few understand what redemption is, what salvation is, where we go, what is the condition, what are the terms, how do we get there, why do we need it; all of those things. You know, we should ask and we should understand. Why does man need any redemption anyway? Why do we need it? The popular teaching is that, one is saved at the time he accepts Christ as personal savior or when he professes Christ or makes his decision for Christ or in some churches when he's baptized, or when he joins the church or whatever the way of initiation might be. Well then, listen my friends, I'd like to ask you this, I want you to think about it. Why is it then that God does not right then and there in that moment, remove the man if he's already saved? Why does not God right then and there remove the saved Christian from this unhappy world of suffering? Why does he have to go on and suffer? And then again you read in the Bible "It is through much tribulation we must enter the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22 KJV paraphrased) Why?
Why doesn't God take a person immediately to his reward and remove him from all of the pains and the heartaches and the suffering of this world if he is then and there saved? Why is there such a thing as sin? Why? Now we hear that it came from the original fall of man. Will you understand about that original fall? Was there any original fall after all? You know, my friends, we've heard about it, we take it for granted but did you ever look into it? You will if you read this book. It will explain it. It will explain all about it. Now, this is a booklet, my friends, that, well you just can't understand about life, you can't understand about salvation, you can't understand God's purpose unless you understand what is in this little booklet. The name of this booklet, "Why Were You Born?"
The Result Of Solomon's AchievementsHe built great works. Great public works. Perhaps not quite as great as some of the public works that the President of the United States is able to at least initiate and through the power of this great nation, which is greater because there're more of us and than there were in ancient Israel, and yet I don't know, frankly, whether even the United States government today is able to build great works any greater than Solomon did. He built great works. He built for himself magnificent gardens and beautiful things. He built that great marvelous palace. If that palace that he built, or rather the temple that he built, which was recognized then as the very house of God if that building existed on the earth today, it would probably be the showplace of all the earth today.
What Are You Striving For?What are you striving after, my friends? You're working hard at something or else working hard at being lazy and lying around. Of course, the idea now is to encourage everyone to think that heaven is a place of bliss, you're go to be like a little dog looking up at his master. You won't have anything to do. You'll go up there and look on the face of the savior and think how wonderful it is. Now, that isn't what God offers you at all, but that's what a lot of people think. And nothing to do; you might go around playing on a harp once in a while. But you'll be living in the master's palace, it'll be, you know, a great castle in the air or wherever heaven is supposed to be. A lot of people have that idea it's idleness and ease. Now that's the idea we have now. The idea seems to be that the state we all want to get into is a state of inactivity, a state of stagnation, a state of complete idleness and ease but we want luxury. We don't want to give anything, we don't want to do anything, we want to just lie around and I think I should say lay around, and be a little ungrammatical, I think it would be more expressive perhaps, but we want to have everything.
Solomon's Pursuit Of Happiness"I bought male and female slaves. I had slaves that were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks. More than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasures of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women. Many concubines; man's delight." (Ecclesiastes 2:7-8)
Wisdom And UnderstandingNow, when I was a young man beginning age sixteen, I began to crave something a little different; just a shade different in meaning. I wanted understanding. And I began to ask God for it. You know, if you ask God for some of these things, if they're right, He'll give them to you. And God has given me a little measure of understanding. I certainly wouldn't begin to say that I have more of that than any man that ever lived. But, I've had a little measure of it. Perhaps I've had my share. Well, I'll tell you one thing, you pay a price for it. The more understanding I have, the more I see that we shouldn't put our trust in men, where most people do, and then get away from God, but we should put our trust in God. And have charity toward men. Because you have to have if you're going to get along with them. The more you know about men, the more disappointed you're going to be in them. But God intended we should have love and charity towards people. And people need it. You need it, too. So, you better have it for others so they can have a little for you.
Learning Life's One True PurposeWell, God put us here to learn lessons by experience; that's why we live this three score and ten. That's why God has given us this life. A lot of us are so rebellious, so stubborn, so stupid; we can't believe God when He says anything. The things that God says are practical. Only, most of you don't know what He says because you don't understand your Bibles. You just know what's been purported to be the Word of God. Know the truth about it as you've never read it or heard it or understood it before. Then open your own Bible and that's where you really find it and believe what you see in your own Bible.
Why Were You Born? — BookletNow, listen, I want you to sit down right now and write in for the booklet on "Why Were You Born?" I think of all the booklets that we have written, that we've published that I've been announcing on this program for years and years, that there has never been one more important than this. This lays down before you the whole purpose of life. It lays down the whole of the why's and wherefore's of this thing that we call salvation. Why do we need it? And just what is it? What do you get and how? Why does God permit wars? And so much human suffering and heartaches, fears and worries and all these type of things. Empty lives, why does God allow such suffering in this world? And what is the purpose being worked out here below? You know that mankind seems to have failed utterly to understand. He has lost his way, he has lost sight of the very purpose of life. And yet, there's a reason why, not only why the world was put here, not only why God put mankind here in general but listen, there's a reason why God had you born as an individual. There's a reason why you as a person, as an individual, were put here on this world and most of you don't know what it is. And you're failing to realize that very purpose. Now, naturally, it has to do with the plan of redemption. But even that plan is not very widely understood today. Nor, rightly preached.