A personal letter to all the brethren of The Churches of God, from your pastor, co-laborer, and fellow-servant in Christ, Herbert W. Armstrong, Box 111, Eugene.
A N E X P L A N A T I O N
ALMOST daily letters are received from interested radio listeners saying "I should like to know more about your work."
This, then, is an explanation.
This work, we believe, has been raised up of Almighty God to sound a definite WARNING to our people, and to proclaim in these closing days that which has not been proclaimed, the TRUE Gospel — the Good News of the KINGDOM OF GOD.
In the Bible — God's revelation and special message to man — are whole chapters and books of prophecy whose meaning has been sealed until this present time of the END. Whole Books of the Bible had no meaning to those of a generation or two ago. Like Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 12:8-10) these vital prophecies were sealed — closed to human understanding until NOW. They pertain to world events, NOW. A very large portion of all the prophecies of the Bible pertain to THIS very generation in which we live.
Bible prophecies have foretold that, in these latter days, the popular churches would have turned their ears away from hearing the TRUTH, and be turned to FABLES; (II Tim, 4:1-4) being DECEIVED into believing they have the truth (Rev.13:14; 18:3; 19:20). That they would maintain all the FORM of religion, but be devoid of God's POWER, or of true understanding (II Tim. 3:1- 5). That they would refuse to HEAR the law of the Eternal, and would demand that their ministers preach the soft and smooth things, and the deceits (Isa. 30:8-40). And that, as a result, the ministers of this time would be "feeding themselves" instead of the flock — that is, preaching what they are TOLD in order to retain their salaries, instead of preaching GOD'S TRUTH. (Ezek. 34:1-5)
The prophecies show that our people today are "IN BABYLON" (Rev. 18:4), — that is, in confusion — with hundreds of sects and denominations, each interpreting the Bible differently. The Bible should not BE interpreted at all. If I write you a letter making plain, simple statements, you understand my meaning without "interpreting" my letter. If you begin to "interpret" what I said, you would be applying to it a meaning DIFFERENT from the obvious intended meaning of plain simple statements. And so it is with the Bible. Differences in belief come from INTERPRETING, when God never intended us to interpret His Message at all. That is why Jesus said that the Scriptures would be revealed unto BABES, but hidden from the wise and prudent. Know when we encounter the symbolic language of prophecy, still WE are not to interpret it. Always the Scripture interprets its OWN symbols.
But denominations necessarily are bound to their particular traditional creeds or doctrines. They are not free to confess error in their teaching, or admit a new revelation of truth which would upset their past teachings. Consequently God has been unable to use them as instruments for proclaiming the long-hidden messages of these sealed prophecies NOW OPENED, which contain a live, most vital WARNING to our people today!
I was in business in Chicago, as a publishers' representative, when God first called me to His service. My wife had a most unusual dream — perhaps more of a vision than a dream — in which she "saw" the second coming of Christ, as it first appeared, or a warning vision of it, as it then turned out. In this remarkable dream, she saw Christ descend; and she feared greatly for me, knowing I was not converted. But Jesus descended immediately in front of us, and placed His arms around us both, then revealing this was not His second coming — -but that it would be soon, and He was calling me to a special mission. At the time, I was awed when my wife told me of the dream, but suggested she tell it to some minister. I did not take it seriously — then. My heart was set on business success and making money. I was unusually successful for a young man, fired with an over- powering ambition. I had studied hard, applied myself diligently, and felt assured of great success in the business world.
Overnight, God took away this business. Every large and important advertising client — multi-million dollar corporations — went into the hands of the receiver during the depression of 1920- 21. Twice afterward I started other businesses. Each promised to grow to national proportions, was on the very threshold of big success, when forces entirely out of my control swept them suddenly and completely away. I couldn't understand it.
I had endeavored to run away from God's call in order to achieve success in business and make money. My business was my god. My sin was along economic lines; the punishment had to be economic. For seven years my family had to suffer poverty with me. It was like King Midas in reverse — everything I touched turned to NOTHING, no matter how diligently or determined the effort.
It was during this time that my interest was drawn by two incidents to the Bible. My wife had suddenly come upon a truth which seemed to me utterly fanatical. Contrary to my orders, she insisted on following and living this truth. Divorce was even threatened, but first I exacted a promise that she would give it up, provided I would study the Bible and be able to show her where she was in error. For six months I wrestled with this Bible truth, and ended up by facing the alternative of accepting it or resorting to a dishonest perverting of God's Word. God had "softened" me up for this surrender by financial reverses and discouragements almost beyond description. The surrender was made, the truth accepted, and then, for the first time in his life the writer began to really understand the Bible. Until then it had been like reading in some foreign language. Now it became plain, simple, understandable — and the most interesting, fascinating, enjoyable study of his life.
It was about the same time that a sister-in-law, having encountered the arguments and hypotheses for the doctrine of evolution in studying geology and biology in college, challenged me on this subject, and wounded my pride by calling me "ignorant" because I did not believe the theory of evolution. Then I also set out to thoroughly STUDY evolution, and in doing so, studied the Bible revelation of CREATION. I succeeded in convincing the sister-in-law that it was SHE who had been in ignorance.
As a result of these two incidences, I made a full surrender to God, and was converted. This was during the seven- years' punishment God inflicted, and came when there was plenty of time for study. Many hours a day were devoted to Bible study. The writer was amazed to find that many of the teachings of his boy-hood Sunday school days were the exact OPPOSITE of the plain, simple statements of the Bible.
At first I was confused — bewildered. But I read in James 1:5: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ASK OF GOD, . . . and it shall be given." I did ask, first for UNDERSTANDING, then for wisdom, which is right knowledge, rightly APPLIED. I began to pray a great deal — to pray as I studied — and much of my Bible study from then on was done on my knees. Gradually the picture cleared. Bible study became my great life-interest. It became a passion. Not as a hobby or side-interest. Not as a means of winning arguments. But purely for the love of the truth itself which had been born in my heart and soul, and as a means of learning HOW TO LIVE. I studied daily, often until long after midnight. I read the writings, studied the doctrines of various faiths and denominations — always following the example of the Bereans which God commanded, "searching the Scriptures daily, WHETHER those things were so." And I have BELIEVED only what I found PROVED in God's Word.
Having been a trained writer, it was but natural that the amazing, fascinating new truths uncovered were written up in article form. Not necessarily with an intention of having these articles published, but as a matter of self-satisfaction. But as a few Christian friends who were deep Bible students began to read some of these articles, they urged me to speak before various groups. This at first I refused to do. Finally, however, a definite invitation to speak before a certain church group was accepted, because I had a message I felt literally IMPELLED to give them.
Somehow that broke the ice. For the first time in my life I prayed aloud before others that day, upon an unexpected request I dared not refuse. Enthusiastic invitations to speak again, followed that meeting. Soon a request came to hold a ten- day evangelistic campaign in a church in a small Oregon town. It was during the holidays when I had time on my hands. I agreed to attempt my first evangelistic effort, on condition that every member of that church promise to devote at least one solid hour each day to earnest prayer for these meetings, to be continued until the close of the campaign. Four or five conversions were the fruit of that first effort, but I have always believed that even greater good, if possible, came to the congregation as a whole from the hour-a-day each one devoted to private prayer. Two or three weeks of that made them a much CHANGED congregation.
Following this brief campaign, I was invited to conduct a short four-meetings-in-three-days campaign at the Baptist church in the next town.
And so, gradually, I was simply DRAWN into the ministry. I never sought to enter it. Rather, like Jonah, I had tried to run away from God's commission. But God threw me overboard into the depths of economic punishment until I learned my lesson. Not that I ran from it intentionally. I was not really conscious of the fact God was calling me to His service. My mind was too filled with material interests to clearly recognize the spiritual call.
But now, during this seven years, all the former pride, ego, and self confidence was torn out root and branch, painful tho the process was. I came to the place where ALL confidence was lost. A strong man may, by sheer will-power, get up again when he is knocked down. But if he is knocked down enough times, he finally stays down. I came to the place where I decided I never had had the unusual ability I had fancied. I looked upon myself as a burned-out piece of junk, not even worthy to be thrown on the scrap-pile. The old Herbert Armstrong died, and with him all faith in Herbert Armstrong. Self-confidence was dead. But now a NEW kind of confidence was born — a confidence, not in self or self- ability, but an abiding FAITH IN GOD! Time after time we were forced to throw ourselves upon God's mercy and depend upon an immediate and miraculous answer to prayer. Time after time the ANSWER CAME! Too consistently to be dismissed as coincidence. Once I had to ask God to SEND to us, at once, a dime for milk for the baby. In less than three minutes the dime came — was literally brought to our house. Another time, my wife could not have lived another twenty-four hours. She was suffering from a combination of things — blood-poison, a dog-bite, quinsy, internal complications. She had not been able to drink a drop of water, eat a bite of food, or sleep a wink in 72 hours — three days and three nights. A believing couple came and prayed a prayer of FAITH such as we had never heard before, — simply, believingly, claiming God's PROMISES as stated in the Scriptures, — and Mrs. Armstrong was INSTANTLY healed of all these critical ailments simultaneously. Another time, we had to have $75 at once, and didn't know where to turn. After 24 hours' FASTING and prayer, the very next mail brought it from a totally unexpected source. FAITH, like muscle, is strengthened by EXERCISE — and God has graciously imposed upon us a very great deal of that exercise, until, like George Mueller, we have learned that whatever God promises in His Word HE WILL PERFORM — and if we can be sure of God's will THRU HIS WORD, then we KNOW we have the answer — and it always comes! We have had, in other words, to come to really KNOW the Eternal, and we have found Him GOOD! The writer knows God loves him much, because God punishes every son He loves — and we have had to suffer a very great deal. But this suffering, and the thousands of EXPERIENCES we have had to live thru, have taught us valuable lessons, and manifested His live in blessings which words could never describe.
From the time I began an active ministry, my labors were blessed and always have been successful. As long as I continued to strive to MAKE MONEY and build a business, every effort came to naught. But on the contrary, every effort devoted to God's service was blessed, and today we look back upon a fruitage of hundreds of conversions, countless answered prayers, many changed lives, and the GOSPEL, together with God's last warning for America, has been carried to many hundreds of thousands all over the United States and Canada.
In the summer of 1933, the present work was started. I was called to hold meetings in a little one-room country school- house eight miles west of Eugene. I started there without money — not even money to print hand-bills. I borrowed a typewriter, wrote out announcements giving the topics of sermons, and went around over the country-side personally inviting people to come. The attendance started good, grew as the meetings progressed, until often even standing room was taken. There were several conversions, and a small church started with these new converts forming a good portion of the little congregation.
The first Sunday in 1934 the RADIO CHURCH OF GOD went on the air for the first time — and has never missed a Sunday since. During the preceding October, I had been told of an opportunity to speak over KORE, local radio station, for 15 minutes each morning for one week, conducting the "morning devotional" period carried by the station. To me, this was a serious opportunity, and I put a great deal of time and study into the preparation of the script. On the morning of the first broadcast, I well remember, about one or two minutes before I went on the air, the thought came that all people speaking for their first time on the radio are supposed to suffer "mike fright." "Why, I'm not suffering any mike fright," I remember thinking, "I'm as cool and calm as a cucumber." Then came the red light and for the first time in my life, I was "ON THE AIR." The script was all written, and as the words began to pour into the microphone, I was startled to notice that for some unexplainable reason I was almost out of breath, my heart was pounding, and I was so nervous I could hardly read. I couldn't imagine what had happened to me so suddenly, when not a minute ago I had been so calm. But I struggled thru it, and after five minutes or so, had forgotten this heart-pounding nervousness, and had my whole mind on the message I wanted the hundreds of listeners to hear.
I was amazed, a few days later — and the officials of the station were even more amazed — when letters began to pour in from listeners asking for copies of these morning radio talks. The station had never before received mail as a result of this morning devotional period. The announcer and station owner got together and proposed that I start a regular Sunday morning "Radio Church." They told me I had a good radio voice, and apparently had something that the listeners wanted. And so this broadcasting work began. At that time it cost us $2.50 per week, and it took a lot of FAITH! $2.50 was a lot of money in those days! But by faith it came.
The PLAIN TRUTH made its bow before some 200 readers one month later, on February 1st. That first number was printed on a mimeograph machine. I borrowed the use of a typewriter to cut the stencils, and borrowed the use of the mimeograph. A friend contributed $5 which covered the cost of paper, ink, stencils, and postage for that first number. The coming issue of The PLAIN TRUTH will cost upwards of a thousand dollars to publish and to mail. That first number had a circulation of about 200 copies, as nearly as I can remember — while the coming number will have a press-run of 25,000 copies!
From that time on the work grew steadily. Each time was devoted to holding personal evangelistic campaigns, and many precious souls were given us for our hire. After some three or four years, during which the RADIO CHURCH grew to be a real Lane county institution, the way finally opened to expand the broadcast to include a Portland station. We started there on station KXL, then on a power of 100 watts. The station changed hands after nine months, and the new owner refused to carry any religious programs. We then went over to KWJJ which then had a power of 500 watts. It increased later to 1,000 watts. Just recently we have gone back to KXL, which now broadcasts the Message on a power of 10,000 watts, Oregon's most powerful station, again under different ownership.
But to go back a little. For a time, just prior to coming to Eugene, we had joined a local church organization. I received a small salary, with our house rent paid, and vegetables, fruit and most of the groceries furnished — the selection being made for us by others. We found, however, that it was impossible to receive even this humble "salary" without being told what I dared preach, and how I must conduct God's work. I came to see that if a man hires you, you must serve THAT MAN — or the denomination, or organization. And so it was that at the time we first came to Eugene, my wife and I made a solemn pledge to God that from henceforth, we would look to Him ALONE for "salary" and all financial support. If we would serve God, we must look to HIM for the "salary". Then and there we dedicated our lives to Him and His service, on the basis of pure FAITH in His promises to supply every need. And from that day on, our work has prospered.
During these past few years we have come into a constantly fuller understanding of the prophecies. Many of the prophecies, closed until now, began to open to our understanding. Gradually, little by little, and continuously, God had never ceased to reveal more and more of the TRUTH we know now He has called us to proclaim. We came to see and to understand the many prophecies — whole BOOKS of prophecies — pertaining to this present war and the time of the immediate future.
We came to see God's great WARNING to America and to Britain that we shall LOSE this war UNLESS OUR PEOPLE REPENT OF THEIR SINS AND PUT THEIR TRUST IN GOD!
God helping us, we know of no one else proclaiming this solemn warning to our nation! And yet, unless it is proclaimed, WHOLE BOOKS of the Bible, such as Ezekiel, Amos, Hosea, Joel, are left almost wholly without meaning. They are a warning for our people in OUR TIME! Yes, even much of Jeremiah and Isaiah — much of Revelation, Daniel, and other important prophecies. To proclaim this life-and-death warning for our nation IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BUSINESS IN THIS WORLD TODAY.
After all these years, I can look back now and see that all my business experience and training in the years before I entered the active ministry, was a PREPARATION for the present task. I was very specially trained and fitted for every phase of this present work in a manner I did not dream of then.
The broadcasts evolved from the conception of a church service condensed to 20 minutes employing radio technique, to the present "WORLD TOMORROW" program of news analysis and Bible prophecy. Twenty years spent in the newspaper and magazine fields, in almost every department of the publishing business, has fitted me primarily for this program. Also it trained me for editing and publishing The PLAIN TRUTH and other booklets and articles.
Always, from the first, this radio work has been a WORK OF FAITH. Always it has been NON-denominational. It is a channel thru which GOD'S TRUE MESSAGE may be proclaimed boldly to the nation without taint or influence of the "babylonish" traditions that seem to grip the world today, and that have deceived all nations.
From the first we have tried to conduct God's work GOD'S WAY. The Gospel must not be SOLD like merchandise — it must go FREE. You'll never see the words "PRICE, so much" on The PLAIN TRUTH or on any literature we publish or send out. You'll never hear us beg for money over the air — and the very fact that it is "customary" makes us the more determined to depart from the traditions of men, and adhere to the rules of God! We never take up collections in public meetings or services. God's way is to GIVE, not to GET. God expects HIS PEOPLE to freely give — to give even at the cost of sacrifice — that the Gospel and the LAST WARNING may be carried forth and given FREELY to others. Our policy is to pay as we go, running no bills.
Gradually, continuously, this work has grown to its present national and international influence. At this writing, "The WORLD TOMORROW" program is going out every Sunday morning at 8:30 over the Liberty Net-Work in the Pacific Northwest — including stations KXL, Portland; KRSC, Seattle; and KGA, Spokane. At 9:30 Sunday morning it is broadcast over KMTR, Los Angeles, and KFMB, San Diego. At 9:45 over KORE, Eugene. And then at 11:P.M. Central war time, over super-power 50,000-watt clear-channel WHO, Des Moines. At this hour, WHO is the most powerful station in America for REACHING OUT — in fact it is probably the ONLY station which has a regular listening audience in EVERY STATE in the Union, as well as EVERY PROVINCE in Canada, for the simple reason it is the only clear-channel 50,000-watt station near enough the CENTER of the North American continent to be heard over the WHOLE continent. We receive letters from the northernmost parts of Canada, from the Panama Canal zone, from the British West Indies in the Atlantic.
But this is only the BEGINNING. This work is just emerging as a truly nation-wide, and international power. This work multiplied about six times over in power and scope during 1942. It must continue to grow proportionately during 1943, for TIME IS SHORT, and much remains to be done. We hope the end of this year will see the "WORLD TOMORROW" program going out over all the larger stations of the Mutual net-work, Coast-to-Coast, supplemented by about seven super-power 50,000-watt stations such as WHO, Des Moines. We hope to see The PLAIN TRUTH circulation jump to more than 100,000 copies during this year. We hope to be able to develop enough office organization to be able to publish The PLAIN TRUTH regularly the first of each month — to publish also "The GOOD NEWS", another monthly publication devoted to feeding the Flock — those who are converted — with the true spiritual food, and the deeper spiritual truths. In addition we hope to be able to resume publication of the "Bible Study Quarterly", suitable for private home study, or for the Bible classes, or for Sabbath or Sunday schools. And we hope, too, to be able in due time to publish some 40 or 50 booklets covering specific important doctrinal subjects. Yes, we have the goals set high, for we have a clear VISION of the work God has given us to do. He has been moving on before, opening the way, laying open the hearts of a growing group of Co-Workers to GIVE of their tithes and offerings, that we together may GIVE of the true Gospel — without money and without price.
While this work is wholly INDEPENDENT of MEN and of man- made or political organizations of men, such as denominations, sects or federations, — as we believe it SHOULD be to be truly GOD'S WORK — yet it is wholly DEPENDENT upon GOD for everything. We try to WALK IN THE LIGHT as He GIVES us the light — to preach, boldly and fearlessly, the TRUTH, and to LIVE that truth as we go.
God has blessed this work richly and abundantly. It's FRUITS are those of a work specially called, directed, empowered, and blessed of GOD — and by their FRUITS ye shall know them! God Himself is WORKING in this work. To those who see that, and wish to place GOD'S TITHES and their liberal offerings besides, where GOD is working, we express our sincerest and deepest heart-felt THANKS and gratitude. May God bless you, as He has blessed and is blessing us and His work!
The PLAIN TRUTH BEING PRINTED
And now, may I give our Co-Workers a report of the present status of God's work? Please read carefully, prayerfully, every word.
As I have explained to most of our co-workers before, the very phenomenal success of the broadcast over station WHO plunged us into a crisis. I believe it will be past as soon as the current issue of The PLAIN TRUTH is mailed out.
We had expected station WHO to add something less than $100 per week to our expense — figuring station-time cost alone. I estimated, based upon experience in using six other stations, between 200 and 300 requests per broadcast for The PLAIN TRUTH and the special booklet being published at the time. Instead, the first broadcast brought around 600 requests, and the number steadily increased, until it was averaging around 1,000 per broadcast. One broadcast alone brought 2,200 letters and post- cards. These letters and cards, most of which show unusual interest, come from every state in the union and every province in Canada.
It cost a fraction over 3› to add each new name to our mailing list — the cost of stencil used in our addressing machine and labor in cutting. Adding postage for mailing the literature requested, and cost of printing, and salaries paid for two additional secretaries (we NEED two more) and each letter or postcard received is costing, in immediate expense, close to 15› to handle. Result, WHO has actually added about $250 per week to our expenses! We were prepared to handle only a $100 expense. BUT, station WHO has given us such a VAST audience that it is the equivalent of having added four super-power 50,000-watt stations, each producing the results we expected.
Certainly I thank and praise God for this unexpected phenomenal response — and I thank Him, and you co-workers, too, for having tided us so nearly over this supreme financial crisis. As soon as these many thousands of NEW listeners receive the coming number of The PLAIN TRUTH — the first copy for most of them — many new co-workers will join with our present loyal helpers, to keep this work going — and GROWING.
Meantime, the printers are already at work on The PLAIN TRUTH. This coming number will run to 25,000 copies! It will cost upward of a thousand dollars to print and mail this issue! And it all must come by FAITH, in addition to the heavy weekly expense of broadcasting. Remember, WE NEVER BEG FOR MONEY OVER THE AIR! I never even so much MENTION the need of it. Ours is the only broadcast I know that is truly 100% a work of FAITH. It's GOD'S WAY! This is GOD'S WORK! And it is, right now, the most vital — the most IMPORTANT work, in this whole world!
It is more than just preaching the Gospel. THIS NATION MUST BE WARNED! The sure Word of prophecy says definitely the only way we can win this war is to REPENT as a nation, turn to God, seek Him and FIND Him, and put our trust in HIM! God has SENT this war upon us, as a JUDGMENT! The day of reckoning, for this nation, is HERE. This is of GOD! HE SAYS SO! Regardless of the APPEARANCE of things at the moment, regardless of the war situation as we THINK it is, regardless of how many planes, and tanks, and ships and guns we produce and how many men we train, STILL God says He will send crop-destroying worms and locusts, and withering DROUGHT and FAMINE that shall literally STARVE us into defeat, unless we turn to HIM! I tell you, dear co-workers, more demands upon you and me making every sacrifice, putting every ounce of energy and spiritual effort into sounding this warning SO LOUD and with such tremendous spiritual power it will WAKE UP this slumbering nation, than upon all that ALL the armed forces, combined, can do! WE MUST NOT FAIL! We must PLUNGE ON! The financial crisis is not over. I still need an extra thousand dollars, over and above regular weekly expenses. Send the largest offering you possibly can by return mail in the enclosed envelope. KEEP sending as OFTEN as you can. And PLEASE PRAY EARNESTLY, and DAILY, for this work.
As ever, your faithful co-worker, Herbert W. Armstrong