Yes, many are astonished — just as people were who heard the same gospel from the lips of CHRIST! Here is the astounding reason.
"YOU SPOKE differently from everything I was taught," writes a radio listener, "but thank God, I opened my Bible and was astonished to see with my own eyes that you were right."
A "Strange Gospel"?
A critic labeled Christ's own Gospel, proclaimed in The Plain Truth and on The WORLD TOMORROW, "a strange Gospel." Indeed it was strange to him and this man professed to be a religious person! Do you know WHY it sounds strange to some? The answer is an almost incredible, shocking surprise! It is recorded that when Christ Himself proclaimed this same Gospel, the people "were astonished at His doctrine." When the Apostle Paul came to Athens with this same Gospel. the founders of much that is called "Christianity" today called him a "setter forth of strange gods"" for" they said, "thou bringest certain strange things to our ears" (Acts 17:18, 20). Well, here is an astonishing surprise.' It may be hard to believe, but it's true! I was shocked to learn it, thirty-four years ago. You probably have had the same experience I had — up to a point. From infancy my parents, upright, sincere Christian-professing people, took me to church and Sunday school. Our family belonged to a respected Protestant denomination. Actually, however, I did not know specifically what definite doctrines our denomination believed, There are, of course, differences in the various denominational doctrines. Yet most churchgoers do not know much about what these differences are. Yet I did always hear — as you probably have — certain basic religious foundations: going to heaven; the immortality of the soul; our dead loved ones being now "in heaven with the Lord"; the wicked dead living forever in a burning hell; church members being already "born again" and "saved"; the Christian obligation to celebrate Christmas, New Year's, Easter, Valentine's day, Hallowe'en, and attendance at church on Sunday. Regardless of other doctrinal differences, it seems virtually all fundamentalist evangelical and professing Bible-believing denominations teach these things. Of course I had always heard these things preached from earliest memory — even as you probably have. It never occurred to me that everyone of these teachings were always assumed, but never read, expounded, or proved out of the BIBLE.' Naturally I assumed that these teachings were foundational, basic teachings and commands of the Bible. You probably have supposed the same thing. Of course, I had never really studied the Bible — just as you very possibly never have. And it never occurred to me that the pastors of our church never preached their sermons out of the Bible — that they merely read one verse, or even part of one verse, containing a word which was the subject of the sermon, and then closed the Bible and preached on the subject of that one word. It never occurred to me that Christ Himself set the example for ministers of literally preaching God's Word, preaching directly Out of the Bible, and expounding it with other Scriptures on the same subject — and all in their proper context. Up to this point, you may have had a similar experience.
Then came the disturbing challenge.' My wife had visited a neighbor lady, who had asked her to read certain passages in her own Bible. My wife. exuberant, overjoyed at finding what she called new truth, ran to tell me. She claimed she had seen, in her own Bible, that one of these universal teachings, mentioned above, was contrary to the Bible. She had found in her Bible a diametric opposite teaching, which she had accepted. I was not overjoyed. I was dismayed, shocked, angry! All these teachings I have listed were so universally accepted, that anything different appeared to be fanaticism. I thought my wife had suddenly gone crazy! "What would my friends think?'" was the thought that filled my mind. I was sure they would think my wife a religious fanatic! My pride simply could not take that sitting down! But I could not talk her Out of it. She insisted that she had actually seen, in her own Bible, what she now called TRUTH — and which I called outlandish FANATICISM! "Look," I said, "you can't tell me all these churches are wrong. They get their beliefs and practices out of [he BIBLE. This neighbor lady simply gave you a wrong interpretation. What do you know about interpreting the Bible?" "No," she insisted positively, "I did not 'interpret' the Bible. The Bible ought not to BE interpreted at all. Like any book, it says what it means, and it means what it says. But why don't YOU look into the Bible and see if you can find in it, anywhere, what nearly all professing Christians think the Bible says on this question. IF they get it out of the Bible, WHY DON'T YOU TRY TO FIND IT IN THE BIBLE? You say that all the churches get their beliefs and practices OUT of the Bible. Go ahead! I challenge you to try to find their teaching on this question anywhere in the Bible! If you can find it IN THE BIBLE then I will go back to it, and give up what I say I have now seen commanded in the Bible." I was angered into my first study of the Bible. For six months I searched night and day. Often I was up searching and studying until after 1 a.m. I procured literature, pamphlets, books from many religious denominations on the subject attempting to support the generally accepted doctrine and practice on this point. Yet not one of them showed any Biblical authority for its teaching and practice on this point! They devoted their arguments to trying to tear down and refute and discredit the BIBLE TEACHING, which I now, myself, saw was clearly and plainly taught IN THE BIBLE from Genesis to Revelation. It was taught and practiced by Christ, the Apostles, the Gentile churches! It was not an interpretation — it was there in plain language.
The Astounding Surprise!
Then I began to search IN THE BIBLE for many of these other popular teachings. I COULDN'T FIND THEM! Instead, I found diametric opposite teaching! I was shaken, bewildered. My head was swimming. Everything in my mind was shaken up! It was like a woman giving her house a general annual spring housecleaning. Suddenly dirt and clutter appear from behind things, in drawers and closets. For a while all is misplaced, untidy, in confusion. But after the dirt and rubbish are cleaned away, all is more orderly and clean than before. The shocking realization began to dawn on me that in what is called the Christian religion today, its exponents and leaders — in fundamental orthodoxy — TAKE FOR GRANTED — CARELESSLY ASSUME — MANY, IF NOT MOST, OF THE BASIC BELIEFS AND PRACTICES — TALK ABOUT THEM CONTINUALLY AS IF THEY WERE TRUE — NEVER READING THESE THINGS OUT OF THE BIBLE, NEVER PROVING THEM BY THE BIBLE — always simply reading a verse or a sentence or part of one here and there about other things Out of the Bible! Yes, it was hard to believe — but IT WAS TRUE!
You Haven't Realized
Now take your own case. You HAVEN'T REALIZED THIS, probably. Yet all your life you have heard religious leaders, preachers, professing Christians, TALK about "going to HEAVEN" — assuming it to be the place where the "SAVED" go. But stop and think! Have you, actually, EVER heard this READ OUT OF THE BIBLE? Have you ever heard, in a church service — or read in a book or magazine or religious tract or piece of literature — a statement quoted OUT OF THE BIBLE stating directly, plainly, clearly, that any "saved" person actually did go to heaven — that is, the heaven of God's throne — or that IF — one is "saved" a plain, clear PROMISE that he shall go to heaven? You HAVE NOT! You may think you have. You have heard people TALK about "going to heaven" ever since you can remember. You have heard it ASSUMED, as if the Bible taught it! So, naturally, since the Christian religion is SUPPOSED to come out of the Bible, you have TAKEN FOR GRANTED without question that the teaching of going to heaven came Out of the Bible. BUT YOU NEVER READ IT IN THE BIBLE! You never heard a sermon PROVING, by plain literal Bible statements and promises, that any dead human (except Christ) or saint ever did go to heaven. Jesus Christ said PLAINLY that NO MAN had ever ascended up to heaven (John 3:13). Read it in YOUR Bible! The inspired Peter said David had not gone to heaven, but was buried in his grave (Acts 2:29, 34) and yet the Bible clearly says David shall be in God's Kingdom. The Bible says plainly the "saved" shall INHERIT THE EARTH in clear language, Psalm 37 — that they shall not be removed from it (Proverbs 10:30). If we are Christ's we are HEIRS to the PROMISES God made to Abraham. What God PROMISED Abraham and his children through Christ is THIS EARTH for an EVERLASTING POSSESSION — Genesis 12 through 22. Also see Romans 4:13. This promise is in PLAIN LANGUAGE. It is stated again and again and again. It is not nullified, refuted, Contradicted, by INTERPRETATIONS of John's visions. For years I offered, first $5, then $1,000, to anyone who could show me any Scripture in the Bible promising that we may "go to heaven," or that anyone except Christ ever DID go to the heaven of God's throne, or giving any plain, clear, real HOPE that he might. THERE WERE NO TAKERS! No, surprising though it may be, YOU have never read any such teaching IN THE BIBLE. YOU have never heard it expounded and PROVED BY THE BIBLE in any sermon, or read it in any book, booklet, article or tract! You HAVE HEARD IT ASSUMED, TALKED ABOUT! You have taken it for granted. You have supposed they MUST have gotten it out of the Bible!
There is a bit of advertising psychology that has worked on us all. It is a trick, but it works! When I was JUST starting out, still unconverted, at age 18, in the advertising profession, I read in a book on advertising psychology that if we ASSUME a thing to be so, and we state it over and over, often enough, people come to take it for granted and actually believe it. I was assigned to sell a few columns of space in the want-ad section of the daily newspaper, in display ads, to second-hand furniture dealers. These dealers did not believe in advertising. They never did advertise. Actually I don't think my department manager expected me to be able to sell a single ad. He was just breaking me in as a new, green boy. He assigned me to what he thought an impossible job, partly as a joke. I picked the store supposed to be the hardest to sell, first. I got acquainted with the owner, but at first made no attempt to tell him what I was there for, or get him suspicious I was trying to sell him an ad. That would only have gotten his resistance up — closed his mind. I began to tell him, however, that I was a young advertising student. starting to learn how to WRITE advertising copy. Then I mentioned that, IF I were to get a job as advertising manager in a store like his, I would describe this dining set in such and such a way — that parlor set in such and such a way. Then I beg n to PRACTICE, which he let me do. As I was writing, I began to just TAKE FOR GRANTED that the ad I was writing was going to be a modest small ad — say, only in the want-ad section, where it didn't cost much, but where thousands would read it. More and more I began to take for granted that we were really going to run this ad in the paper. NOT ONCE did I ask him if he wanted to — I simply ASSUMED he was going to. I kept this up about an hour, then began to ask whether he would rather have it at the TOP of the page, or at the bottom. When he said at the TOP, he had committed himself. I thanked him, and ran out quickly. I did not ask him WHETHER he want ed to buy the ad — that I took for granted — and by this time he had taken it for granted, too, so that when I asked him WHERE he wanted it placed on the page, he automatically answered. That broke the ice. and I sold my assigned number of columns, to the surprise of my "boss." I HASTEN TO ADD AGAIN THAT I WAS THEN ONLY 18, AND NOT YET CONVERTED! But the psychological trick WORKS! When a cigarette manufacturer keeps telling the public in ads in magazines and newspapers, on TV and radio, and on billboards. over and over, that his brand makes the smoke "TASTE BETTER," nearly everybody gets to accepting the idea that people TASTE smoke. Actually, smoke is tasteless. People SMELL the tobacco smoke! But people BELIEVE what advertising men keep telling them over and over and over. You probably have believed this your self. And so, also, have JUST about all of us believed that THE BIBLE teaches that the "saved" are to GO TO HEAVEN. We have supposed it came out of the BIBLE
HOW We Have Been Deceived
Jesus Christ said there would be MANY false prophets, not a few. The Bible says ALL NATIONS have been deceived. Jude says people have gotten away from the TRUTH originally delivered through Christ and the true apostles. Most people have no idea whatever of HOW, generation after generation, when people reared as pagans began to profess Christ, they held on to some of their PAGAN teachings and customs. One generation brought a few of them into accepted Christianity. Another generation added a few more. Gradually, down through the centuries, "Christianity" became more and more paganized. PEOPLE ACCEPT AND BELIEVE WHAT THEY FIND EVERYBODY ELSE AROUND THEM BELIEVING! And so people have come to accept, and to practice, teachings and customs diametrically CONTRARY to those taught IN THE BIBLE — all the while supposing they came out of the Bible!
WHY Truth Sounds STRANGE!
So it is, that when someone comes along with something different than that which is popular and almost universally accepted BY PEOPLE, even though it be TRUTH, even though it come out of THE B1BLE — it sounds strange — it appears fanatical! It is in our human nature to be CONFORMISTS. We seem to want to GO ALONG. We want to BELONG — that is, to HUMAN groups. It does not seem to occur to us to ask ourselves: "What will GOD think?" but always, "What will PEOPLE think?" if we accept a different belief, or a different custom. VANITY makes us want to be well thought of by the PEOPLE — that is, the PARTICULAR GROUP, SOCIETY. CHURCH, CLUB, or those we look up to and want to get in with. So, immediately, if Christ's own TRUTH runs counter to their ideas, practices. or beliefs, we find automatically a great wall of prejudice looming up as a barrier against the truth. We resist it. We resent it. We become angry at it or those who bring it to us. In a debate the general idea is to REFUTE everything the "worthy opponents" say. Scarcely ever does a debater or a debating team honestly consider and weigh whether his "honorable opponent" is right. The opponent must be proved WRONG, by hook or crook, no matter whether he is right! The idea is to defeat him and win the debate! It is not a search for TRUTH. I have, in past years, been challenged to debate Bible truths — but I have refused, first, because the Bible itself forbids debate and commands me not to get into such disputes that engender strife; and second, because the challenger, I know, would never have an open mind but would be bent only on resisting, denying, disproving every truth I might advance, and discrediting me as a person, imputing evil motives, in addition. When Jesus came teaching God's TRUTH — with the Great Message from God to mankind — He came to a people steeped in beliefs and customs diametrically CONTRARY to His truth. They had been brought up in their teachings and customs from babyhood. HIS MESSAGE WAS STRANGE TO THEM. Actually, it was their beliefs and ways that were STRANGE, but of course they didn't seem strange to the people. Whatever is DIFFERENT from that to which we are accustomed seems STRANGE! We tend to resent and resist it! Yes, it is recorded that the people were ASTONISHED at Christ's doctrine. Today, in the PLAIN TRUTH and on the WORLD TOMORROW program, we teach and preach HIS SAME DOCTRINE — we literally preach the Word of God — and today people are ASTONISHED — shocked! Yes, I know — I WAS MYSELF! But I did not run away from it. I did not refuse to let myself think about it. If we REJECT knowledge, GOD says He will reject us! I found the truth REALLY GOOD! And it is not strange, after all!