How can we find the TRUE CHURCH OF GOD?
Good News – November 20, 1978
WHERE is the one and only true Church today – the Church founded by Jesus Christ in A.D. 31? Seven major eye-opening proofs identify it unmistakably.
by Herbert W. Armstrong
page 3 Good News November 20, 1978
YOU LIVE in a world of religious confusion. WHY so many different religions? Taoism, Shintoism, Hinduism, the Moslem religion and Christianity with its many denominations and sects.
Religion is generally regarded as the worship of the Creator or the supernatural, although some Oriental religions are primarily philosophies.
The largest religion in the world, in claimed number of adherents, is Roman Catholicism. It has won near universal acceptance in the Western world as being the original Church of Christianity.
But where is the absolute AUTHORITY to identify the true religion and the one original Church of the Christian religion?
Or, is any authentic? Communism rejects religion, labeling it “the opium of the people.”
I seriously doubt if any has been put though the experience that came to me to settle this question with PROOF POSITIVE.
WHY do most people believe the things they believe? The philosopher C.E. Ayers said truthfully that few, indeed, have ever stopped to ask themselves in retrospect why they believe the things they believe or HOW they came to believe them.
I have answered many times that most people believe that which they have repeatedly heard, read or been taught, and have carelessly assumed those things to be true without question and without proof.
The disturbing dual challenge
I was born of stable and upright parents, with an ancestry in the Quaker faith that had emigrated from England to Pennsylvania with William Penn, a hundred years before the United States became a nation.
At age 18 I dropped all but the most passive interest in religion. I had put myself through an intensive self-examination, coupled with a survey of the various occupations and professions to determine where I belonged – to avoid fitting the proverbial square peg in the round hole. This led into the advertising profession and a business life. I was unusually successful. I had continued through the years diligent study and application. I had planned that my business contacts were largely with the great and the near-great.
Then, at age 34, I was assailed by very disturbing dual challenges. My wife, after nine years of happy marriage, had begun keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. I was aghast! That, to me, was religious fanaticism! She claimed to have found this teaching in the Bible.
My first upsetting thought was, What will my business contacts and friends say? It was a devastating thought, humiliating!
All the arguments came quickly to my mind. They were of no avail. She said she found this teaching in the Bible.
“But the Bible says,” I protested, ” ‘Thou shalt observe Sunday.’ ”
“Can you show that to me in the Bible?” she asked.
“No.” I replied. “I don’t know much about the Bible. My interest and studies have been in the area of business. But I know the Bible teaches Sunday observance because all these churches can’t be wrong, and they receive their beliefs from the Bible.”
“If,” she smiled sincerely – but to me exasperatingly – “you can show me where the Bible commands Sunday observance, I’ll go back to it.”
There was no dodging the challenge. My marriage depended on it!
The second challenge
Coincidentally a sister-in-law, newly married and fresh out of college, hurled at me a second humiliating challenge.
“Herbert Armstrong,” she accused contemptuously, “you are just plain ignorant! Everybody who has any education knows human life has come by evolution.”
I was proud. I had not neglected study and education. I thought I knew the facts about evolution, and I didn’t believe in it. But now I had to admit I had never pursued a thorough, in-depth research of the question.
The dual challenge drove me into a determined almost night and day research. That intensive study continued for six months before I found the proved answer. Yet the study to this day has never ceased.
I was not only humiliated and angered by these challenges – I was determined to prove both my wife and sister-in-law wrong. Both challenges focused on a common starting point – the book of Genesis in the Bible – although that was only the beginning.
These challenges came at a period in life when I had ample time on my hands. I plunged with intense concentration into the study.
But I did not begin the research in Genesis. First I delved thoroughly into the works of Darwin, Lyell, Haeckel, Huxley, Spencer, Vogt, Chamberlin and Moore, and even into the earlier works of Lamarck and his theory of “Use and Disuse,” which preceded Darwin’s survival-of-the-fittest hypothesis.
Immediately those writings appeared convincing. They necessarily are, to have won virtual universal acceptance in the world of higher education. I readily understood how the field of education had been gripped in the clutch of the evolutionary concept.
Evolution, as I finally learned, is the atheists’ attempted explanation of the presence of a creation without the pre-existence of a Creator.
This initial stage of my research rudely shook my faith in the existence of God. It brought me to the realization that I had assumed the reality of God, because from childhood I had heard – and therefore assumed – it. For a while my head was literally swimming. Was all I had ever believed mere myth and error, after all? I was awakened to the realization that I had never seen PROVED the reality of God! Now I was determined to know the TRUTH! My mind was being cleaned out from ideas and beliefs previously taken for granted.
Of all the writings on evolution, Moore alone had culled out many discrepancies in the theory. Yet he too went along with the doctrine overall.
But now I had, first of all, to prove or disprove the existence of God. It was not casual or superficial study. I continued in this research as if my life depended upon it – as, in actual fact it did, as well as my marriage. I studied books also on the other side of the coin.
Irrefutable proof of God
Suffice it to say here that I did find irrefutable PROOF of the existence of God the Creator – and I found proof positive of the fallacy of the evolutionary theory. I had the satisfaction of winning the admission of one thoroughly steeped in evolutionary thought – having spent years in graduate work at the University of Chicago and at Columbia – that I had definitely chopped down the trunk of the evolutionary tree, though like Dr. Moore, she had been so thoroughly brainwashed in it she had to continue in what she had seen and acknowledged was PROOF of its falsity.
Also I had the enjoyment of being able to cause my sister-in-law to eat those words branding me as ignorant. All of which was mere vanity on my part, which I had not yet eradicated.
I had proved the reality of THE GREAT MAJESTIC GOD! But my wife’s challenge was still tormenting my mind. Already, in the evolutionary research, I had studied Genesis. I knew each of the world’s religions had their own sacred writings. Once God’s reality was proved, I had expected to continue in the pursuit of comparative religions – to see if any such sacred writings proved authoritative. Through which of these did GOD speak to mankind – if any?
Since I had to research the Sabbath question anyway and already I had delved into Genesis, I decided to continue my study in the Bible – intending to examine in-depth the writings of other religions afterward.
In my biblical study I came across, early, the passage in Romans 6:23: “… The wages of sin is death…” I stopped, amazed. “Wages” is what one is paid for what one has done. Here I was staring at a statement diametrically opposite to my Sunday school teaching prior to age 18.
“Why,” I exclaimed, “how can that be? I was taught in church that the wages of sin is EVERLASTING LIFE – in an eternally burning hell.”
Another shock came on reading the last part of the same verse: “… but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ”
“But,” I questioned in disillusionment, “I thought I already had eternal life – I am, or I have, an immortal soul. Why should I need it as a gift?”
I researched the word soul by means of a Bible concordance. Twice I found the words, “… The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4 and Ezekiel 18:20).
Then I remembered I had read in Genesis 2 how God said to the first human, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
In Genesis 2:71 read how God “… formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man (dust, matter) became a living soul.” This stated plainly that a soul is physical – formed from matter. I found that the English word soul is translated from the Hebrew nephesh and that in Genesis 1 fowl, fish and animals, all three, were nephesh as Moses was inspired to write.
Next, I happened to read where Jesus said, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man…” (John 3:13). I researched the heaven and hell teaching further. I saw where the inspired Peter, on the day he received the Holy Spirit said, “For David is not ascended into the heavens…” (Acts 2:34).
Teachings opposite of the Bible
I was, in utter astonishment, coming to realize that what I had been taught growing up in church was the precise opposite of what the Bible says in clear language.
This is not the place for a lengthy, detailed account of my intensive search in the Bible – bent on proving to my satisfaction that “all these churches can’t be wrong, for their teachings came from the Bible.” The essential point here is the simple fact that I did find irrefutable PROOF of the divine inspiration and SUPREME AUTHORITY of the Holy Bible as the revealed Word of God as originally written. Even all the so-called contradictions evaporated upon unbiased study.
Yet, to my utter dismay and chagrin, I was forced to “eat crow” in regard to my wife’s supposed “fanaticism.” It was not what I wanted to believe, THEN! But by now I had taken a real beating. I had proved truth contrary to what I wanted to believe.
Let me pause here to add a point to what I wrote above, saying most people believe what they have repeatedly heard or read or been taught. There are two other psychological truisms in regard to WHY people believe what they do. One is, people carelessly accept what those around them believe. Most Thais are Buddhists because those around them in Thailand are Buddhists. There is the psychological tendency to go along with one’s peers. One other reason for people’s beliefs is that human nature tends to cause one to believe what he wants to believe, and refuse, regardless of proof, what he does not want to believe. There is the old saying, “One convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
God’s Word is truth
That is why I have said the experience I was painfully subjected to in this six-months’ intensive study was UNIQUE in human life and conduct. I know of no world religious leader who arrived at his teachings in such manner. Perhaps that is why GOD’S INSPIRED WORD alone – as I proved – is TRUTH. Only GOD is infallibly correct!
I was brought, by the spring of 1927, to a complete MIND-SWEEPING – my mind swept clean of previous assumptions and beliefs – surrendered to the WORD OF GOD, which by then I have proved TRUE, and the SUPREME AUTHORITY.
More, I had been brought to realize my own inadequacy and nothingness. I had been brought to a real repentance – CONQUERED by the GREAT MAJESTIC GOD – and with a solid rock-based FAITH in Jesus Christ. I was baptized, and the infilling of God’s Spirit opened my mind to the JOY UNSPEAKABLE of knowing God and Jesus Christ – of knowing TRUTH – and the warmth of God’s divine LOVE!
What I once hated I now LOVED. I found the greatest and most absorbing joy of my life in continuing to dig out those gold nuggets of TRUTH from God’s Word.
Now came a new enthusiasm in biblical study and receiving the REVEALED knowledge of God.
Where is God’s Church?
Now came the urgent desire to find the ONE and ONLY true Church of God as founded A.D. 31 by Jesus Christ. He had said (Matthew 16:18) that His Church would not die but continue through the generations.
My intensive biblical studies had shown me the basic evidences that would identify that continuing original Church.
1) It would have rightly discerned the revealed TRUTH of God as contained in His Word, the Holy Bible. I had learned that GOD is the Source of knowledge, and He REVEALS that knowledge through His written Word. This Word, remember, I had PROVED by irrefutable PROOF the divine inspiration and SUPREME AUTHORITY of the Holy Bible as the revealed Word of God. God is the supreme Educator – Revealer of TRUTH.
2) It would be, not a human secular organization, but a SPIRITUAL ORGANISM, yet WELL ORGANIZED on God’s revealed pattern. It would be composed of begotten children of God – the “… household of God … built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets,” with Jesus Christ its guiding HEAD (Ephesians 2:19-20), as a “… building fitly framed together groweth unto an HOLY TEMPLE in the Lord” (verse 21) “… from whom the whole body [is] fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth …” (Ephesians 4:16).
It would have UNDERSTANDING of GODS TRUTH. And it would be PRODUCING ABUNDANT FRUIT.
I did not find such a church immediately. But in His due time, God led me to find that ONE AND ONLY original Church of God. I now reveal SEVEN MAJOR PROOFS that identify it.