Plain Truth Magazine

"False Conversion!" article from Herbert W. Armstrong

(Originally Published in the Plain Truth Magazine February 1982 Issue) [caption id="attachment_4397" align="alignleft" width="212"]False Conversion article by Herbert W. Armstrong This article is just one of many published in a NEW magazine called “Recapture True Values” published by wwcg-archives.com staff.[/caption] To download your Free Issue of our NEW magazine “Recapture True Values” – Click here! Millions have been led to think they are “saved,” who are only deceived and don’t know it! Here is a frank, daring article, making the truth PLAIN! IT’S DIFFICULT to believe, but it’s true. In today’s religious confusion millions have supposed they had salvation spiritually — they have believed on Jesus Christ — and are not saved! Would you suppose one could actually worship Christ — and all in vain? Do you know what Jesus himself said of these people who want to worship him without obedience to God’s Commandments? Listen to his words: “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men… Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:7-9). Back to the Faith Once Delivered   But what does GOD tell you in his Word? Through Jude, God says: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares … ungodly men, turning the GRACE of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3-4). Yes, even before the New Testament was completely written, ungodly men had crept inside the Church to corrupt it — turning GRACE into LASCIVIOUSNESS. And what is “lasciviousness”? It means “license” — unrestrained liberty — abuse of privilege. In other words, license to do that which seems right in human eyes — according to human conscience — though it disobeys God’s LAW! And that is exactly what those ungodly men, even in the first century, did — turned GRACE into unrestrained privilege to disobey God’s law and turned to human conscience as a guide! And once introduced, the practice has persisted and spread over the whole world until today! This is one of the FABLES the apostle Paul warned us men would turn to. Paul said: “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. . . . For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts [lasciviousness — human reasoning] shall they … turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto FABLES” (II Tim. 3:13; 4:3, 4). But, one will argue, Jude said these men would deny the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not the men who teach a “no works” doctrine believe in Christ? Do they deny him? Yes, they DENY him! God says: “They profess that they know God; but IN WORKS they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every GOOD work reprobate” (Titus 1:16). The way of human reason — that seems RIGHT — is often DISOBEDIENCE to God!   What the Savior Himself Taught     These deceived teachers have just one favorite text. They quote Acts 16:31: “BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Now that text from the inspired pen of Paul means what it says. But there are two kinds of BELIEVING — the living faith that brings salvation, and a dead “no works” faith that produces only DEATH! But WHY do they, in their tracts and their sermons, never quote what the Savior himself said in answer to the question? WHY? Jesus was asked: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18.) Some might try to tell you that the SAVIOR himself did not know, or teach, the way of SALVATION — he was teaching Old Testament religion. Well, he was asked HOW to gain ETERNAL LIFE. Is that salvation? It certainly is! Old Testament religion teaching lasted until John — not until the cross — not until “Pentecost.” Just UNTIL JOHN (Luke 16:16). Jesus preached the SAME gospel he commanded his disciples to teach ALL nations — gentiles included — the same gospel Paul preached to gentiles. He preached only the NEW Testament gospel. He revealed the WAY OF SALVATION. Here is his answer — that of the SAVIOR HIMSELF on HOW TO BE SAVED: “IF thou wilt enter into LIFE, keep the commandments.” And he enumerated enough of the Ten Commandments to show it was this particular law that must be obeyed AS A CONDITION to receiving eternal life as God’s GIFT. Jesus said “IF” — (THERE WAS A CONDITION) — “IF” we are to be saved, by God’s grace, WE MUST KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS! God lays down his own terms and conditions. His FREE GIFT is conditional — you get it ONLY if you “keep the commandments.” You can’t EARN it. God GIVES it — but only to those who “KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS.” God will not GIVE you eternal life in sin. And what is Sin? “SlN IS THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW” (I John 3:4). Some who pervert God’s truth insist Jesus did not name ALL of the Ten Commandments in the above scripture. Sin is the transgression of THE LAW. It is a COMPLETE LAW. He named enough of its points to designate WHICH LAW he was talking about. And James says that law has “POINTS” — and, if we break any ONE of the 10 points of the Ten Commandments, We BREAK THE LAW, and are sinners (Jas. 2:8-11). The very same day the Holy Spirit came — the very day the NEW TESTAMENT Church commenced — thousands, hearing the inspired Peter’s sermon, which struck straight to their heart, asked, “What shall we do?” — yes, WHAT SHALL WE DO TO BE SAVED? The inspired answer was: “REPENT, and BE BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts. 2:38). Jesus said, “REPENT YE, and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL.” We must BELIEVE not only in Jesus as Savior, but we must believe also THE GOSPEL he brought and preached — the Gospel of the Kingdom of God — the AUTHORITY of God and the WORD of God over our lives — a message not preached today by most organized churches! After his resurrection, in his parting instructions to his disciples for preaching the way of salvation, Jesus said: “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that REPENTANCE and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:46-48). This is the gospel for ALL NATIONS! But what must we repent of? WHAT is SIN? Do you realize that VERY FEW people know? Very few know the BIBLE definition of SIN. God’s inspired definition of sin is this: “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). Paul would not have known what was sin, except by the law. But what law? The very law which says: “Thou shalt not covet” (Rom. 7:7). That law is the Ten Commandments. This law is summed up in the one word — LOVE! It is further defined in the two great Commandments, LOVE to God, and LOVE to neighbor. But the same law is further defined and divided into 10 points, by the Ten Commandments — the first four of which tell us how to love God, the last six of which tell us how to love neighbor. James’ Inspired Answer   And thus it is explained in James: “IF ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well” (Jas. 2:8). Here is the royal law — the whole law — as a general principle. The law is LOVE — and LOVE is the fulfilling of the law. Jesus fulfilled it, setting us an example that we, too, should fulfill the law. We fulfill it with LOVE — not any natural, carnal love in human nature, but “the love of GOD is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 5:5). The Holy Spirit in us is merely GOD’S LAW IN ACTION IN OUR LIVES! And so, if we fulfill this royal law we do well — but if not, we commit sin (Jas. 2:9). Now read verse 10. If we keep the WHOLE LAW — the general principle of LOVE to neighbor — yet offend in one point, we are guilty — we have broken the law — and the penalty is DEATH, not eternal life. Notice, please, the law is divided into points! And it is divided into 10 POINTS — the Ten Commandments. These are merely the 10 points, or subdivisions, of the general royal law, LOVE to God and to neighbor. “For he that said [or, that law which said], Do not commit adultery” said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery” — if you do not break that specific point — “yet if thou kill” — you just break that one point — “thou art become a transgressor of the law” (Jas. 2:11). So you see the TEN COMMANDMENTS is the very law it is sin to transgress. It is a SPIRITUAL law (Rom. 7:14). It is fulfilled by the SPIRITUAL LOVE that is God’s precious gift to us — his love placed within us. “Wherefore the law is HOLY, and the commandment HOLY, AND JUST, AND GOOD” (Rom. 7:12). To REPENT of sin means to turn from sin. It means to QUIT SINNING! And that means to stop transgressing God’s holy law. And the way to stop breaking it is to begin KEEPING God’s Commandments — ALL OF THEM, for if you break only one, you bring on yourself the penalty —ETERNAL DEATH — and you lose salvation. Now Jesus “magnified the law, and made it honourable” (Isaiah 42:21). When we put a spiritual “magnifying glass,” so to speak, on the Ten Commandments, it is enlarged in spirit and principle into many more points. And in a larger aspect the ENTIRE BIBLE is a magnification of God’s law. The law is the basis of all Scripture. It defines THE WAY of life — the way to happiness, joy, eternal life! Notice how like God it is! The law is GOOD (Rom. 7:12). God is good. The law is HOLY (Rom. 7:12). GOD is holy! The law is JUST (Rom. 7:12). GOD is just! The law is SPIRITUAL (Rom. 7:14). GOD is spiritual! The law is PERFECT (Psalm 19:7). GOD is perfect! The law — including all his Commandments — is immutable, ETERNAL, stands fast FOREVER AND EVER (Ps. 111:7-8). And GOD is eternal! Of course — for the law is the very character, the very nature, of God! It is the WILL of God. Conscience Not Your Guide   But in the modern-day Babylon — confusion of conflicting teachings — you have been taught, falsely, that YOUR CONSCIENCE tells you what is sin. But your conscience only troubles you when you do what you THINK is wrong! And what you think is wrong, another may think is right! Your conscience is NO GUIDE! Sin is not the doing of what you think is wrong. Not the transgression of conscience — sin is the transgression of God’s LAW (I John 3:4). Sin is thinking and doing what GOD SAYS is wrong — and he says it in his law. One who does what he thinks is right may be committing a great deal of sin! God says: “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of DEATH”! (Prov. 14:12 and 16:25.) Again, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Prov. 12:15). And: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes” (Prov. 16:2). The world has been going the WAY that seems right to man for some 6,000 years. But this WAY has brought only unhappiness, emptiness, discontent, poverty, sickness and disease and finally, CHAOS and DESPAIR all over the world! It has produced NOTHING GOOD! God says: “SEEK YE the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake HIS WAY, and the unrighteous man HIS THOUGHTS: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. FOR MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS, NEITHER ARE YOUR WAYS MY WAYS, saith the Lord” (Isa. 55:6-8). And there is THE WAY of salvation! There is THE WAY to find GOD! SEEK HIM, by forsaking — WHAT? Forsaking YOUR WAY — your thoughts! The way you have THOUGHT to be right. The WAY of SALVATION   The first step toward salvation is to REPENT, and that means forsake your way — the customs and traditions you have been following, the ways of man, the ways you have been living. FORSAKE YOUR OWN WAY. Turn to God’s way — the way of HIS LAW! The way of HIS WILL! Yes, the WAY of success, achievement, doing good, of prosperity — the WAY Of ETERNAL LIFE! Since the entire Bible contains the magnified explanation of GOD’S LAW, the Bible becomes OUR GUIDE FOR RIGHTEOUS AND SUCCESSFUL LIVING! That is why Jesus said man shall live by every word of GOD! True repentance means you give your SELF to God. And the only kind of repentance that is prerequisite to the gift of eternal life is COMPLETE AND UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER TO GOD — to his will, which means to HIS LAW. You become HIS, literally, and wholly, with no reservations! Repentance is a COMPLETE CHANGE in your life — in your attitude TOWARD life — your purpose in life — your THOUGHTS and your ACTIONS. It means forsaking some of your old friends and companions — if they are living the worldly life that seems right to MAN. It means turning from and forsaking worldly social and religious customs, interests, pleasures that are contrary to GOD’S WAYS. It means THE BIBLE becomes the SUPREME AUTHORITY over your life — your guide to living — yes, to happy, abundant, gracious living, and SUCCESSFUL and righteous living, henceforth and forever — to live your life from now on with GOD’S HELP, and BY HIS POWER, according to the spirit and principle, as well as the letter and precept of his Commandments. You henceforth STUDY THE BlBLE — not just carelessly read, but STUDY, to learn GOD’S WAYS, and to LIVE BY EVERY WORD OF GOD! Now ask yourself, candidly: How MANY people who profess salvation — who have “accepted Christ” — do you believe have REALLY COME TO THIS KIND OF REAL REPENTANCE? “Except ye REPENT,” warned Jesus, “ye shall all likewise PERISH” (Luke 13:3, 5). And again, “He that SAITH, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a LIAR, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4). Yes, MILLIONS ARE DECEIVED! But if millions are deceived about the prior CONDITION of repentance, just as many millions are deceived today as to the KIND OF FAITH that really SAVES! The FAITH That SAVES   Now think a moment! Use your REASON! We are taught, and rightly, that we cannot EARN our salvation — it is the GIFT of God. If is by GRACE — and “grace” means undeserved pardon and free gift. Yet, notice how inconsistent people are! They argue there must be NO WORKS — no OBEDIENCE to the Commandments, or doing GOOD — no recognizing of God’s AUTHORITY over your daily living — because salvation comes by GRACE — God’s free GIFT. And yet they seem to believe that somehow WE must supply the FAITH that brings salvation! If WE work up, or if WE supply this FAITH by which we are saved, would not that, in fact, amount to our producing our own salvation by the very WORKS of supplying this FAITH? So notice, briefly! Notice more CLOSELY than you did before! “For BY GRACE are ye saved through FAITH; and that [that FAITH] not of yourselves; it [this saving FAITH] is the gift Of GOD”! (Eph. 2:8.) The faith that really saves is GIVEN TO us by GOD — it is a GIFT from HIM! You don’t supply it, or work it up. Did you ever notice that before? Well, what then? In Gal. 2:16, Paul explains a man is justified only “by THE FAITH of Jesus Christ.” Notice, he does not say, by the man’s faith IN Jesus Christ — he says by “the faith of Jesus Christ” — which means CHRIST’S FAITH — the faith HE has and uses — the same faith with which he performed all his miracles — the same faith by which he lived — his faith, placed by a miracle, as a gift direct from God, into the man! So, PLEASE UNDERSTAND! Salvation is GOD’S GIFT. You do not, cannot, earn it. God GIVES it. But — and here is where people become mixed up, and stumble — God will GIVE it only on condition! Yes, there are terms and conditions! God has set these terms, and you can’t alter them, and he won’t change them! I want to make this perfectly PLAIN. It is not your faith in Christ — a faith YOU supply by BELIEVING in him as Savior — that saves you. It is CHRIST’S faith, which he supplies and places in you by his Holy Spirit, which actually IMPARTS ETERNAL LIFE. But WHAT, then? Is it not necessary for YOU to believe, with YOUR OWN faith, in Christ? Now let me make this PLAIN! Salvation is GOD’S FREE GIFT — it is by GRACE ALONE. Yet the very purpose of God demands TWO prior CONDITIONS on YOUR part. First, you must REPENT! Second, you must BELIEVE in Christ as Savior. But you cannot believe in Christ unless you also believe his message — the gospel of the Kingdom of God (Mark 16:15-16). But NEITHER your repentance, followed by your obedience, NOR YOUR faith earns any salvation! They are merely prior CONDITIONS. But when you supply these two ingredients, then God STANDS BOUND BY HIS PROMISE to impart to you by his Holy Spirit HIS righteousness, and CHRIST’S faith — and THESE, supplied by GOD, are the ingredients that SAVE AND IMPART ETERNAL LIFE! Paul explains: “Even we have believed IN Jesus Christ, that we might be justified BY THE FAITH OF CHRIST” (Gal. 2:16). You must repent and believe in Christ, as a condition, a prerequisite, IN ORDER THAT you may receive, and be saved by the faith OF Christ — by his faith placed within you! Cut Off From GOD   All have sinned! All have gone the way that seems right in human eyes. And our sins have cut us off from God: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2). Now salvation — eternal life — comes from GOD. But your sins have cut you off from God. The connection is SEVERED. You severed it! God will not GIVE you his gift of eternal life until you are reconciled to him! But he so LOVED you, that he GAVE his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to DIE FOR YOU so that you need not perish — but, through Jesus Christ, be brought into contact with him so he can GIVE you eternal life! The PENALTY of transgressing his law is DEATH! Jesus paid that penalty in your stead. If, and when, you TRULY REPENT, as I have explained at length, and BELIEVE on Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal Savior from sin and from sinning, then by and through HIM you gain access to GOD THE FATHER. The two conditions of turning FROM sin, and accepting Christ (including baptism), YOU must DO YOURSELF! That’s what YOU must do! That is NOT what saves you! It merely reconciles you to GOD — brings you into CONTACT with God, so that God will then GIVE YOU his HOLY SPIRIT — and his SPIRIT imparts the gift of the FAITH that saves — and is also the Spirit of UNDERSTANDING, of knowledge, of the love that FULFILLS the law and imparts GOD’S righteousness. Millions have been deceived and . falsely believe that they have a salvation that they do NOT yet have at all! GOD HELP us, then, to UNDERSTAND. What You Should Do   Now, finally, just HOW shall you go about it? Must you go down the aisle in a church? Must you go to a public altar, and shed tears in front of others, and pray aloud before others? Being converted is not an initiation into a lodge or secret society! It is not a rite or ceremony! It is a matter of turning FROM the old life that was false, yet may have seemed right to you — of turning TO a new and TRUE way of life in Christ Jesus, living by every word of God, in and by the power of God’s Holy Spirit! When you UNDERSTAND the real MEANING and the PURPOSE, you’ll see that it is something that takes place down deep in your HEART and not a matter of THE PLACE or THE SURROUNDINGS, or the presence of other people. What Jesus said about confessing or denying him before men did not refer to a rite, or ceremonial form of being converted. Being converted is the receiving of the Holy Spirit — the very life — of God. You CAN, of course, make this full surrender and consecration to God in front of others, at an altar. You can, also, make it just as sincerely and fully, in a private room at home, all ALONE with God! You can pray in church before others and do it sincerely from the heart. Yet Jesus said, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet [any private room], and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall, reward thee openly.” WHEN you have really repented — repented of what you are as well as what you have done — WHEN you come to this parting of the ways from the old life — when you come to the place of making this COMPLETE CHANGE — this total unconditional surrender to God — this complete consecration, GIVING your SELF to him, accepting Christ as your personal Savior — turning FROM your sins, and TO GOD’S way of life as you’ll find it in the Bible, you’ll want to PRAY! Yes, you’ll want to throw yourself completely on God’s mercy, and ask him through Jesus Christ to FORGIVE YOU all your past sins and transgressions against him. The apostle Paul reveals how. He confessed: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform “that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Rom. 7:18-19). He saw human nature in its gruesome reality. He struggled with it — fought against it — only to find that it was more powerful than he! What could he do? Paul cried out, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Read the answer to the problem in the Moffatt translation: “Miserable wretch that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? GOD WILL! Thanks be to him through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (verses 24-25). It is not, perhaps, of great consequence where you do it! But the IMPORTANT thing is to DO IT! The longer you put repentance off the harder it will become. WHY it should be difficult to just go and throw yourself on God’s mercy, and ask his forgiveness and give your SELF to him, is hard to understand — yet something in the human nature within you will keep tempting you to PUT IF OFF. That temptation is not of God, you may be sure. If you are sick and tired of the empty, fruitless, materialistic life you have been living — IF in your heart you DO want to turn from it to the FULL and JOYFUL life filled with God’s SPIRIT, then WHY DELAY? This is just the start of the real Christian life. Don’t look for a certain feeling, but repent and believe.  ]]>

"With Psaltery" | Answers to Questions

THE BIBLE ANSWERS Short Questions FROM OUR READERS

The Plain Truth  Magazine -July, 1967 Issue

  You define “psalteries” in The Bible Story by parenthetic expression as “bagpipes.” I don’t find this definition current among the dictionaries at my command. I would be gratefully pleased for the elucidation of this point. Robert L. D., Tulsa, Okla.   Dictionaries are not perfect! The English word “psaltery” comes from the Hebrew word “nebel.” “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible” — available in most public libraries — defines “nebel” as “a skin-bag for liquids (from COLLAPSING when empty).” What musical instrument is made of a skin-bag that collapses when empty? Only the bagpipe! If we take Strong’s definition of the word, the meaning appears very clear. But if one reads further, his explanation becomes muddled. The author apparently doesn’t believe his own definition. The definition in “Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary” is typical of most dictionaries. It is inaccurate. Peloubet dogmatically states at the outset of his definition of the psaltery: “This was a stringed instrument of music to accompany the voice … This instrument resembled the guitar …” The definition purports to have the ring of certainty. But notice several lines further down when Peloubet actually starts defining the word “nebel”. “It is impossible to say positively with what instrument the “nebel” of the Hebrew exactly corresponded. From the fact that “nebel” in Hebrew also signifies a wine bottle or skin, it has been conjectured that the term when applied to a musical instrument denotes a kind of BAGPIPE.” Why couldn’t theologians believe their own definition of the Hebrew word “nebel”? Possibly because it goes contrary to opinions they already had. A careful scrutiny of the definition of the Hebrew word and its 21 occurrences in the Old Testament makes it impossible to define the “psaltery” as a type of guitar. It is impossible to deduce anything so rigid as a guitar from a Hebrew word that specifically connotes collapsing when empty. Theologians know that the term “nebel” clearly means an instrument that collapses when empty — as a bagpipe does when the air is let out. But they still can’t believe it. So they reason around it. To associate the Hebrew “nebel” with the Greek “psalterium” required a theological and grammatical distortion. Why can’t modern theologians believe the “nebel” or “psaltery” was a bagpipe? Very likely they reasoned that “this ‘nebel’ was a Hebrew instrument and the bagpipe is a Scottish instrument and the Scots are not Jews.” They just couldn’t bring themselves to render this term “bagpipe” 21 times in the Bible. If they had, it would become rather clear that the bagpipe was rather prominent in ancient Israel. And that David, the sweet psalmist, had a high regard for the bagpipe, as well as the harp, as an instrument to be used in praising God. Someone might then deduce that since the Scots, who are among the most traditional of Celtic, Gaelic, Anglo-Saxon peoples, perpetuated the bagpipe in its finest form, they may be Israelites! And if the Scots are Israelites, it would not be too difficult to conclude that other related nationalities in Northwestern Europe are also Israelites. Since this would make us related to the Jews, the scholars had to conclude that the “nebel” or “psaltery” was anything but a bagpipe. Thus the “skin-bag” became a kind of guitar. One would not call a guitar by any term that connotes collapsing when not in use. But the Hebrew word “nebel” perfectly fits the Scottish and Irish bagpipes. Just how logical is the theologians’ decision to discard the apparent meaning of “nebel” and arbitrarily select a new meaning that violated the natural connotation of the term? In the scriptures that tell us the characteristics of the “psaltery” or “nebel” what do we find? Do these verses describe the bagpipe? or the guitar? In I Chronicles 15:20 the Levites were commanded to play “with psalteries on ‘Alamoth’.” This term ‘alamoth’ means “soprano” or “falsetto.” The bagpipe emits a high-pitched falsetto sound. But would this description fit the guitar-type instruments? Hardly. In Psalm 33 we find the command to “play skillfully with a loud noise” (verse 3). Verse 2 reads: “Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.” It would have been difficult to get a loud noise out of this combination if the psaltery were a guitar. But with the psaltery as a bagpipe, there would have been no difficulty. Some assume that in Psalm 33 the term “an instrument of ten strings” is meant to DEFINE a psaltery, rather than being a third instrument in the group. But in Psalm 92:3, in which the same grouping is mentioned, the wording is absolutely clear. Read it: “Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.” This wording indicates three different instruments. The “nebel” — translated “psaltery” — appears to have been commonly accompanied by the harp and by a little-known instrument of ten strings. Old drawings have pictured instruments with ten strings of equal length. This may have been simply a rhythm instrument. Such an instrument would go well with bagpipes. Who is more likely to have preserved the instruments and melodies of David’s Israelite surroundings than the traditional Israelites, such as the Scots, Welsh and Irish, who colonized Britain in the days of ancient Israel and preserved much of the form of Hebrew music? With bagpipes in his band, it is no wonder David was inspired to dance a “Highland fling” as he brought the ark to Jerusalem (II Sam. 6:5). Bagpipes, rightly used, generate feelings of exuberance and make people want to EXPRESS proper emotion. ]]>

Here's the Plain Truth About OLD TESTAMENT POLYGAMY

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Here’s the Plain Truth About

OLD TESTAMENT POLYGAMY

 

By Herbert W. Armstrong [The Plain Truth Magazine – October, 1963]


You may be surprised to learn that Abraham was not a polygamist — that David completely repented of it — that God’s legal statutes made polygamy illegal in ancient Israel!
GOD DID NOT sanction polygamy in Old Testament times. Contrary to the suppositions many have accepted, God FORBADE IT — and PUNISHED for it!
Abraham Was NOT a Polygamist
Many people recall at once a few Old Testament instances of plural wives, and ASSUME that God sanctioned polygamy. That assumption is absolutely false! God has NEVER approved, nor made lawful more than one living wife for any man. Quite the contrary, He FORBADE IT, even to the kings of Israel, and that by written STATUTE! Abraham WAS NOT A POLYGAMIST. While Sarah, his wife, lived, he never married any other woman. Abraham had an illegitimate son by Hagar. But that was an adulterous SIN. Although it renders it nonetheless a SIN, I think we can recognize extenuating circumstances. Sarah was barren. For a wife in ancient times to go childless was felt to be a disgrace. It was Sarah, Abraham’s own wife, who brought to Abraham her servant handmaid, asking him to produce a child for Sarah by this servant woman. We can imagine Hagar to have been attractive, and not necessarily lacking in voluptuous charms simply because she was a servant. The temptation, under these circumstances, at Sarah’s instigation, might have been great. Certainly the very invitation coming from Sarah would have made it harder to resist. Abraham was a strong man. But the temptation appears to have been STRONGER. ALL humans have sinned. Abraham was human. Abraham lied when he twice claimed Sarah was his sister, fearing for his own life. Abraham was not without sin. But neither this adultery, nor the two lies were sins of the nature that springs from a wrong attitude of mind or heart. Abraham, in his heart, was always OBEDIENT to GOD. There was no spirit of hostility or rebellion. These sins were of the FLESH, under temptation — not malicious or rebellious sins of the heart. But THEY WERE SINS! God FORGAVE Abraham’s sins of spiritual weakness, committed under heavy temptation. Nevertheless, we all must REAP what we sow — even though God forgives our sins upon repentance. God refused to approve this adulterous act of Abraham’s. He rejected the illegitimate son, Ishmael, from the birthright. This transgression produced jealousy between the women. It resulted in trouble, controversy, suffering. How many realize that even the Arab-Jewish strife over Palestine, today, was brought on by this very THREE-CORNERED TRIANGLE, and the ensuing jealousy of the two women, Sarah and Hagar, over the one man, Abraham? The Jews are the children of Sarah, through Isaac, born later by a miracle. The Arabs are the children of Ishmael. In Genesis 21:8-21 is the record of Hagar’s departure from Sarah and Abraham. God ordered Abraham to send away the concubine Hagar and her son, and Abraham OBEYED. This was at the time Isaac was weaned. Abraham had, after this, no more relations with Hagar, or his other concubine, Susanna, who is mentioned in the ancient Austrian Chronicle — see Genesis 25:6 where you will read that Abraham’s COCUBINES’ sons were sent away. Sarah’s death is recorded in Genesis 23:1-2. It was after that (Gen. 25), that Abraham married Keturah. This, of course, was a perfectly legal marriage. THERE WAS NO POLYGAMY — NO DIVORCE. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are termed, in both Old and New Testaments, “the Fathers.” Jesus Christ came to confirm the PROMISES made to “the Fathers.” The unconditional promises God made to Abraham were repeated to both Isaac and Jacob.
Isaac Had Only One Wife
Isaac WAS NO POLYGAMIST! There is no mention whatever of any wife for Isaac other than Rebekah. There is no mention of any concubines, or of any act of adultery. In Old Testament TYPES Abraham is the HUMAN type of God the Father. He is called, in the human sense, the father of the faithful. In this same system of types, Isaac is the type of Christ, the Son of God. And Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, is the type of the CHURCH, which is to marry Christ. Did you ever realize this type similarity? Just as Rebekah had to become the affianced bride of Isaac, and in a sense come to LOVE HIM, before she ever saw him — while he was still off in another land, so must we in God’s true CHURCH come to LOVE CHRIST, who is in a far country — heaven — without ever having seen Him! Now CHRIST will never have but the ONE WIFE. And, Isaac, being a type of Christ, had only one wife. Apparently Isaac was spotless from sins of lust or sex. Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, like her mother-in-law, Sarah, was barren. But Isaac did not take things into his own hands and have children by her handmaids, or by concubines. Neither did Rebekah do as Sarah had done, and resort to bringing a servant girl to Isaac to produce a son for Rebekah in this proxy manner. Instead of using human reason, taking things into his own hands, Isaac TRUSTED GOD! “And Isaac entreated the Eternal for his wife, because she was barren: and the Eternal was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived” (Gen. 25:21). If only we could learn to TRUST GOD to work out our problems!
JACOB: One Wife After Conversion
Jacob is a name that means “Supplanter”. It was God’s will that Jacob receive the birthright instead of his older brother Esau. But in his earlier life Jacob did not rely on God. He took the matter in his own hands, aided and abetted by his mother. As he stole the Birthright from Esau by unfair means, and received Isaac’s blessing by a lying deception, so his father-in-law, Laban, deceived Jacob. Laban supplanted Jacob’s PROMISED and LOVED wife, Rachel, with his elder daughter Leah. Leah was foisted on Jacob by fraud. According to God’s marriage laws, Jacob could have rejected her — put her away as soon as he discovered the deception. In that event, he would never have been truly married to Leah — God would not have bound them as one flesh. But when Jacob accepted her as his wife, she became his ONLY true wife, in God’s sight, as long as they both lived. But Jacob was not yet converted. He leaned to his own understanding. He did not seek wisdom from God, nor did he seek to OBEY God. He did what seemed right to him, in his own selfish interest. So Jacob lived in polygamy with two wives, and also had children by their two personal maids. But you read of Jacob’s conversion in Genesis 32:24-30. He then put idolatry out of his household (Gen. 35:2-4). God appeared to him, changed his name to ISRAEL (“Overcomer”, or “Prevailer with God”), and re-confirmed the PROMISES. Then God took Rachel, his second wife (Gen. 35:19), leaving only his first and true wife, Leah. So, following his conversion, Jacob had but his one original wife. Jacob had repented. He lived no more in polygamy after his conversion.
A Worldly Custom
It is of course true that it was a worldly custom, in patriarchal times, and in the days of the Kingdom of Israel, for kings and wealthy men to take plural wives. A harem was one of the symbols of royalty. But God FORBADE polygamy for the kings of Israel. Here is God’s LAW respecting polygamy by Israel’s kings: “When thou art come unto the land which the Eternal thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me …. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away” (Deut. 17:14, 17). It is spoken of as “THIS LAW” in verses 18 and 19. Israel’s first king, Saul, had plural wives. But in this he disobeyed God and followed the custom of the kings of the worldly nations around Israel. It was SIN. It was not approved by God.
David REPENTED of Polygamy
David had several wives. But after his tremendous sin of taking Bathsheba and having her husband murdered, David repented, in real heart-rending repentance. And he never repeated the sin. Very few seem to realize what actually happened. See II Samuel 12:9-12. “Now therefore,” said God (Verse 10), “the sword shall never depart from thine house; BECAUSE THOU HAST DESPISED ME, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.” Notice, David despised GOD — not merely the commandment of God, as in Verse 9, but also the very PERSON of God! He did it by taking this woman as his wife. Therefore the sword was never to depart from his HOUSE. The HOUSE OF DAVID, at that time consisted solely of these plural WIVES, and his children. This was a tremendous, super SIN. God was meteing out tremendous superpunishment. Now notice the next verse: “Thus saith the Eternal, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of THINE OWN HOUSE ….” His own house included his wives and children. WHAT evil? God has just said the SWORD will now come upon his house his family. God continues: “…. and I will take thy wives before thine eyes and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.” Notice this was to be done in the sight of THIS sun — before that very day’s sunset. God continues: “For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” The Septuagent Version translates it “THIS sun” here, as in the preceding verse. So a neighbor or neighbors defiled David’s wives publicly, in the open sun that very day — ravished them. God said “I will take thy wives before thine eyes and give them unto thy neighbor.” This was done publicly that very day. But at that point, David repented. All that is mentioned, in this particular text, is: “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Eternal” (Verse 14). But you will read of David’s private prayer of repentance to God in the 51st Psalm — the prayer of a really broken and contrite heart. It was REAL repentance. David TURNED FROM polygamy. The next words in this text in II Samuel 12 are: “And Nathan said unto David, The Eternal also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” However, the son to be born of this adultery was to die.
Even Concubines Put Away
Do you see what God did? He meted out to David a tremendous punishment — God took all his wives, leaving Bathsheba only. With David’s first and only legitimate wife, Michal, probably dead (see II Sam. 6:23), God also had cleared the way for Bathsheba to become the legal wife of David. Apparently this was done, that she might be the mother of Solomon, through whom God was to keep His unconditional, dynastic promise to David — a forefather of Jesus Christ — and a prophet used in writing thee Bible. After that David was away from Jerusalem. But, returning there were ten concubines (his former harem). Here is what David did with them: “And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, WHOM HE HAD LEFT TO KEEP THE HOUSE, and put them in ward, and fed them, but WENT NOT IN UNTO THEM. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood” (II Sam. 20:3). Just as David kept the ten concubines “in widowhood” — that is, he had no relations with them, for they had been defiled — so he put away his other wives (II Sam. 19:6) BECAUSE THEY TOO HAD BEEN DEFILED by a neighbor (II Sam. 12). David had truly repented. He practised polygamy NO MORE! When David was becoming old, he went “fully after the Eternal” (I Kings 11:6). He was “a man after God’s own heart,” because his heart was right. He did repent. He had been a warrior. In his younger life he went after many women. He had sown his wild oats. BUT HE REPENTED! His heart turned to GOD. His life’s race ENDED in victory — he “went fully after the Eternal.” It is not the one who starts out with the biggest burst of speed, but the one who finishes first AT the END of the race who wins it. His son, Solomon, started out righteously, unselfishly, relying on God. But, “when Solomon was old,” he had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines it must have been a record harem. And his wives turned away his heart from God, and to their idols. It was SIN! Regarding it, God’s Word says: “Solomon did EVIL in the sight of the Eternal” (I Kings 11:6). There was polygamy in ancient Israel. But it was SIN! God CONDEMNED it — He never condoned or sanctioned it. They reaped what they sowed.
What GOD Joins in Marriage
Also Israelites practiced what God had forbidden — divorce and remarriage. On this, Jesus said: “Moses (NOT GOD) because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt. 19:8-9) GOD has NEVER legalized divorce and remarriage. It is not allowable today. Jesus said, in this same connection: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female?” Notice, Jesus was dating this from the BEGINNING. And God NEVER CHANGES! “And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” Notice, a man shall cleave to his WIFE — NOT WIVES. And they TWO — not he and several wives — shall be one flesh. “What therefore GOD hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4-6). It is what GOD joins together. That is the definition of MARRIAGE. God does not join together one man with plural women! Any woman a man may “marry” according to man’s codes, in addition to the wife GOD joined him to, is NOT his wife, so long as his real wife lives. Any additional women, whether in polygamy, or by divorce one at a time, is plain ADULTERY! GOD never joins the second, let alone the additional “wives.” They are NOT truly wives — they are adulteresses, and the man becomes an adulterer. THIS BREAKS GOD’S LAW. IT IS SIN. Jesus thus put us straight on monogamous marriage. God made ONE wife for Adam — not a harem! He started the human family out as He ordained they SHOULD go — a family of ONE man and ONE wife! And, remember, God gave this absolute COMMAND regarding future kings of Israel — telling them they must not do as the pagan nations around them (whose kings had their harems): “NEITHER SHALL HE MULTIPLY WIVES TO HIMSELF!” Saul, Israel’s first king, DISOBEYED that command. He let demons take hold of him. God deposed him, and put David in his place. David started out in polygamy, but God punished him. HE REPENTED thoroughly, and he finished his reign with his ONLY living wife. Solomon finished his life in polygamy and idolatry — and God, in punishment, rended the KINGDOM away from his son, Rehoboam. GOD DID NOT CONDONE POLYGAMY! He PUNISHED those who practised it! It was ALWAYS SIN! It is SIN today! Hosea and other prophets constantly dwell upon the thought of monogamous marriage as being a symbol of the union of God and His people, and denounce idolatry as unfaithfulness to this spiritual marriage-tie.
Christ to Marry ONE Church
The marriage relationship, in the New Testament, is the type of the relationship between Christ and God’s Church. The worldly churches are MANY. Those who claim the NAME Christian — Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox Catholic, hundreds of Protestant churches — all claim to be, combined, the Church which Christ started. They seem to believe, somehow, that when Christ returns to earth to marry His church, that Jesus Christ will be a POLYGAMIST — that He will marry HUNDREDS of Churches — have HUNDREDS of WIVES! THEY ARE WRONG! Jesus Christ will marry but ONE Church — the True Church of GOD — and all these worldly churches will be on the outside looking in! Listen! “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His WIFE (NOT WIVES) hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). One of the qualifications for a Minister in GOD’S Church is that he have only ONE wife! No POLYGAMIST may be a Minister of Jesus Christ in His True Church! Here it is: “A bishop (elder, overseer, preacher, minister), must be blameless, the husband of ONE wife” (I Tim. 3:2). Likewise, a man may not even be a deacon if he has more than one wife (Verse 12). Let us, then, understand it once and for all! Polygamy is a SIN. God condemns it! It is ADULTERY! IT HAS NEVER BEEN APPROVED OR CONDONED BY GOD AT ANY TIME, IN PATRIARCHAL DAYS — IN OLD TESTAMENT TIMES — OR NOW, TODAY!]]>

Church Literature Provides Long Sought Answers

Church Literature Provides Long Sought Answers

By Richard Rice

Pastor General’s Report June 22, 1984

  Many people who come in contact with God’s Church are amazed at what they are learning and often mention that their lifelong questions are now being answered. Some have searched for the truth over a period of years, or even decades, and are thrilled that God has finally led them to His Church. The following comments convey the zeal and enthusiasm of those discovering God’s truth through our literature. How I wish I had known about you, The PLAIN TRUTH and the booklets that I receive and love, sooner. I am sixty years old and never had a goal in life until these past few months, due to your teaching. I desperately needed to know more. D.M. (Belleville, NJ) I started reading The PLAIN TRUTH magazine approximately six months ago and I must tell you that it has affected me deeply. Also, I have read some of the booklets offered free of charge, and enrolled in the Bible correspondence course. I was raised in “religion” but never felt satisfied–so many questions remained unanswered, so many explanations and interpre- tations seemed inadequate. Through the years, I have spoken with many people of various churches and beliefs and found myself even more confused. I now know that I have at last found the truth. By reading, studying and listening to Mr. Armstrong’s broadcasts, I find that my doubts are being put to rest and my questions are being answered, sometimes in such rapid succession that it is almost breathtaking. J.J. (Dover, NH) I can’t believe what a difference it makes to read just one arti- cle from your timely magazine. The articles are enriching and the information you give is priceless. Your booklets have also benefited me tremendously. I have finally found the answers to important questions and I’m experiencing a more total inner peace. A.G. (Goshen, CA) Please send me the free literature as listed. I do want to thank you dearly for the booklets that I have already received. They have helped me tremendously. They have answered my questions and erased my doubts. They also helped me to answer questions asked by my children. Thank you for the literature that I can pass on to them. I’m 61, a Catholic and not ashamed to admit that I have learned more this year through your literature than I have since I’ve been able to read and I now understand what life is all about. A.K. (Aliquippa, PA) I’ve been a subscriber to your magazines for seven years now. In addition, I’ve taken your Bible correspondence course. I’ve read this material and compared it to the Bible and the customs in which I was raised. I’ve gone to the point of consulting numerous ministers with all my questions and absolutely not one could answer more than two of my questions. The material that I’ve received from your magazines has ALL the answers to my questions. Mrs. R.T. (Dayton, OH) I have recently become interested in your literature. It is extremely eye-opening. Your material has made me realize all the questions I had about the Bible in the past may be answered. In just one issue of The PLAIN TRUTH my eyes have been opened about so many things. I have already sent in a card for my year’s sub- scription, but listed below are some other booklets I am interested in. P.T. (Linden, TX) For the past year I have read your literature and my Bible is now so clear–just like a jigsaw puzzle being completed. As I told one of your ministers on the phone, just as I form a question in my mind, the next booklet I read gives the answer. I am growing in the knowledge of my Lord. G.O. (Williston, TN)]]>

Literature Helps People Cope With Trials

Literature Helps People Cope With Trials

By Richard Rice

Pastor General Report June 15, 1984

  It is heartening to read how The PLAIN TRUTH and our other literature have been of great encouragement and inspiration to people in their time of greatest need. With the help gained from the literature the Church produces, many have been able to weather severe trials–illness, divorce, unemployment or the death of a loved one. Many have written telling how their faith has been strengthened and their outlook on life brightened, as the following letters show. I just wanted to express my sincere gratitude for all of your concern and generosity for me and all peoples of the world. The PLAIN TRUTH is a success because people with the right attitude are behind it. Your magazine has helped me in many ways with my attitude about physical, financial, mental, emotional and spirit- ual things and concerns. I truly thank you. H.D. (Akron, OH) Thank you for wanting me to have The PLAIN TRUTH. I learned much from it, and I enjoy having it sent to me. I cannot send you any- thing at this present time…but as soon as I can I will send my gift so that others may enjoy this magazine because it helps me to keep my faith when things around me fall apart. L.K. (Trenton, MI) Would you please send a subscription of your wonderful magazine to my daughter–my only child–who has just divorced and has her own daughter to rear. I came upon The’PLAIN TRUTH shortly after my own unwanted divorce five years ago and it has helped me a lot. I had gotten away from God for a long time (being married to an atheist). I do believe The PLAIN TRUTH is the only truth. Maybe it will comfort her. E.B. (Chicago, IL) Yes, I would like to still get The PLAIN TRUTH. I was getting it when my husband passed away and it helped me to get over the depressed feeling I had. I knew God took him out of his suffering for he had cancer and also had to have surgery on the spleen and gall bladder. Before he went back to the hospital he told me that if God wanted him to live he left it in His hands, but if not he was ready to go for he had made peace with his Maker. He also read The PLAIN TRUTH and loved it. Thank you for publishing this magazine. Mrs. L.M. (Saluda, SC) I have M.S. [multiple sclerosis] and The PLAIN TRUTH helps me “survive.” J.H. (Randolph, MA) Watching you on TV has given me a different outlook on life. I am a recovering alcoholic that had lost his faith in everything. I want to thank you. J.A. (Michigan City, IN)]]>

Readers and Viewers Inspired to Study Their Bibles

Readers and Viewers Inspired to Study Their Bibles

By Richard Rice

Pastor General’s Report, June 01, 1984

  It is encouraging to read letters from readers and viewers who have taken Mr. Armstrong’s advice to “blow the dust off of their Bibles” and begin to understand God’s Word. Using “The WORLD TOMORROW” program and our literature as guides, many are having their eyes opened to the truth. The following comments from letters describe some of their reactions: Continue reading…