THE INCREDIBLE HUMAN POTENTIAL
by Herbert W. Armstrong
This is the eye-opening story of the real gospel message of Jesus
Christ -- of how this missing dimension was withheld, and the whole
It's positively astounding! It has remained undiscovered by
science! No religion has revealed it! Higher education has never
taught it! Is it possible the whole world has been
deceived -- regarding the awesome purpose of human life -- about the
WAY to world peace and how it will come? And could it be true
that the real gospel message Christ brought from heaven revealed
this missing dimension -- but was suppressed? This is the
eye -- opening story of the real gospel message of Jesus Christ -- of
how this missing dimension was withheld, and the whole world
Table of Contents
..... CHRIST'S GOSPEL WAS SUPPRESSED -- NOT HEARD FROM THE FIRST CENTURY UNTIL
..... THE STARTLING REVELATION OF WHAT WAS CHRIST'S GOSPEL
..... THE INCREDIBLE HUMAN POTENTIAL AT LAST REVEALED
..... PRE-EXISTENCE BEFORE THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE
..... WHAT LED TO THE CREATION OF
..... HOW GOD PLANNED TO REPRODUCE HIMSELF
..... BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN HUMAN MAN AND THE ULTIMATE SPIRIT -- COMPOSED
SONS OF GOD
..... WHY TODAY'S WORLD EVILS?
..... WHY THE CHURCH?
..... JUST WHAT DO YOU MEAN -- CONVERSION?
..... HUMAN NATURE -- AND HOW A WHOLE WORLD IS DECEIVED ABOUT ITS ORIGIN
..... IS THERE LIFE AFTER DEATH?
..... WORLD PEACE -- HOW IT WILL COME
Why The Church?
One cannot comprehend the real purpose and function of the Church
without an understanding of Old Testament ISRAEL.
Ancient Israel was both Church and State. It was one of the
world's nations, called the kingdom of Israel. But it also was a
Church, called the Congregation of Israel. Or, as in Acts 7:38,
the "church in the wilderness."
One cannot understand either Old Testament Israel, or the
New Testament Church of God, unless he bears in mind God's
PURPOSE in placing mankind on the earth.
God is reproducing Himself! His cardinal objective for MAN
is the creation of holy, righteous, spiritual CHARACTER. Bear
that constantly in mind as we compare, or contrast, the Old
Testament "church in the wilderness," and the New Testament
Church of God. Creation of this righteous character prepares for
the ultimate objective.
We have explained the natural mind of man -- and how it
differs from animal brain. There is, in man, a spirit. This
spirit is in the form of essence -- not a soul or person. It
imparts to the human brain the power of intellect -- of thinking,
reasoning, decision making. This is explained in detail in
This mind, then, with which each human is born is the
natural, carnal human mind. And "the carnal mind is enmity
[hostile] against God, for it is not subject to the law of God,
neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). This mind is limited to the
acquisition of physical knowledge.
To comprehend the things of God -- spiritual knowledge -- is
impossible without receiving as God's gift His Holy Spirit -- a
second spirit added to the "human" spirit with which each person
God's creation of MAN was perfect as a physical creation,
yet incomplete! This physical creation began with Adam, but the
spiritual creation must begin with the second Adam -- Jesus Christ.
When God sentenced Adam's human race to 6,000 years of being
CUT OFF from contact with God, He made an exception. He reserved
to Himself the prerogative of calling into His service such as He
required to fulfill His PURPOSE
God had called Abraham. And 430 years after, God called
Abraham's descendants through Isaac and Israel, then called "the
Children of Israel." At that time they were in Egyptian slavery.
Under leadership of Moses, God led them out of Egypt, to inherit
the Promised Land.
At Mount Sinai, God offered them a covenant agreement, later
called "the Old Covenant." Upon obedience to GOD'S GOVERNMENT
over them, God promised to make them the most prosperous, most
powerful nation on earth. But God promised them only temporal,
material and national rewards -- NOT His Holy Spirit of eternal
This hostile mind, unsubmissive to God, we shall see in
chapter 10, had been subtilely and invisibly injected into human
minds through the human spirit, by Satan. A baby is not born with
it. The "prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2) begins
implanting it as early in life as the human mind begins to absorb
knowledge and to function.
Modern intellectuals have said, "Given sufficient KNOWLEDGE,
the human mind can solve all problems."
One of God's purposes in Old Covenant Israel was to PROVE,
by multiple generations of Israelites, that, even given KNOWLEDGE
of God's government and way of life, the carnal mind will
not -- and therefore cannot -- solve its problems, live in peace,
happiness, joy, and eternal salvation.
However, humans will not obey God's way to peace, happiness,
and eternal joy without the addition of a second Spirit to the
The experience of multiple generations of Israelites, PROVED
that the natural mind of man is hostile to God -- not subject to
the law of God, which is THE WAY to peace, happiness, and
Adam and Eve had been instructed by God in HIS WAY. They
rejected it, and turned to the WAY of SELF-centeredness -- of
vanity, lust and greed -- of jealousy and envy -- of competition,
strife, violence and destruction.
But in Old Covenant Israel, God REVEALED to them, through
Moses and the prophets, the KNOWLEDGE of God's WAY.
WHY, then, Old Covenant Israel?
They were left without excuse. They were, in Adam, a
physical creation -- but without the SPIRITUAL creation, which can
come only through Christ the "Second Adam," they simply would not
live the way of life that produces peace and universal
I repeat, they were without excuse! It was MAN -- the first
Adam -- who thought he could live a more happy life, without God's
Spirit, which he spurned.
God sent to Old Covenant Israelites His prophets, bearing
His admonitions, PLEADING with them. They stoned many of their
prophets to death!
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God pleaded: "Return, thou
backsliding Israel, saith the [Eternal], and I will not cause
mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the
[Eternal].... . Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou
hast transgressed against the [Eternal] thy God, and hast
scattered thy ways to the strangers [Gentile nations] under every
green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the
"Turn," God continued, "O backsliding children, saith the
[Eternal],for I am married to you ..." (Jer. 3:12-14).
Old Covenant Israel was carnal-minded, with minds hostile
against God, and not subject to the laws and ways of God!
Now the New Testament CHURCH OF GOD
Remember Old Covenant Israel lived in the days of the first Adam.
Satan, the "prince of the power of the air," by subtile injection
through the "human" spirit of his hostile attitude, ruled supreme
in the world. And with the exception of those in God's Church, he
does still today!
Remember, too, that all nations and peoples, except the
nation Israel, had been completely CUT OFF from God and knowledge
of God. They had continued forming their own ideas of government,
swayed, though unrealized, by Satan. They had formed their own
religions -- created in their own imaginations their own gods. They
had produced their own store of human materialistic
knowledge -- though more than half of all living were -- and remain
today -- illiterate, living in abject poverty, filth and squalor.
They were suffering the evil consequences of Satan's way!
It was, and today still is, except for the Church of God and
the Message of HOPE it disseminates, A WORLD WITHOUT HOPE!
But Jesus Christ, the second Adam, was to come at God's
proper time, bringing a hope that is real -- and transcendently
wonderful beyond human capacity to comprehend!
Notice two prophecies, recorded by Old Testament prophets
under inspiration of God:
"For unto us [the Israelitish people] a child is born, unto
us a son is given: and the GOVERNMENT shall be upon his shoulder;
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty
God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase
of his GOVERNMENT and peace there shall be no end, upon the
throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to
establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even
for ever. The zeal of the [Eternal] of hosts will perform this"
This prophecy foretells Christ's appearing as a KING -- a
RULER -- to reestablish the GOVERNMENT OF GOD on earth.
Then, foretelling His coming as the Savior of mankind,
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a
virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name
Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14).
Now see this prophecy fulfilled in the New Testament: An
angel appeared to Joseph, fiancé of Mary the mother of Jesus:
"Joseph," he said, "thou son of David, fear not to take unto
thee Mary thy [espoused] wife: for that which is conceived in her
is of the Holy [Spirit]. And she shall bring forth a son, and
thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from
their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold a
virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they
shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God
with us" (Matt. 1:20-23).
This prophecy reveals Christ as SAVIOR.
And so was born JESUS -- the SECOND ADAM! Begotten of God
before His human birth -- as no other had been. He was GOD as well
as man -- GOD with us -- GOD made human so that, as a human, He could
die (Heb. 2:9) for humans! Yes, GOD in the likeness of human
flesh, who could overcome Satan the former King Lucifer, thus
qualifying to restore the GOVERN MENT OF GOD to earth!
Satan tried to destroy Jesus soon after birth -- before He
could grow up to qualify and announce the KINGDOM OF GOD! But God
protected the Christ-child, causing Joseph and Mary to flee with
Him to Egypt -- until Herod, provincial Roman king over Judea, was
"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with
wisdom ..." (Luke 2:40). Jesus was endowed with the Holy Spirit
of God from birth.
I have said that, as the "prince of the power of the air,"
Satan subtilely and invisibly injects into human minds through
the "human" spirit his attitude of hostile rebellion. Satan
begins implanting this carnal attitude as early in life as the
child begins to absorb knowledge and to think. But the growing
child Jesus, filled with GOD'S Spirit, resisted from infancy this
magnetic "pull" we call human nature.
Jesus never had a carnal mind, hostile against God. His
mind, from earliest childhood, was subject to the law of God.
Thus He was constantly and continually overcoming Satan, in a
manner no other human had experienced!
Then, turning again to Mark's record, "And it came to pass
in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was
baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway, coming up out of the
water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove
descending upon him. And there came a voice from heaven, saying,
Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
"And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan .
After forty days and forty nights without a morsel of food
or a drop of water, Jesus was physically very weak but
spiritually strong. Then ensued the most titanic battle ever
fought -- for the highest stakes of all time in the universe!
The detailed story of this supreme struggle is recorded in
Matthew 4, beginning verse 1.
Many a doctor of medicine would believe no man could live
forty days without food or water. They are woefully ignorant
about fasting. Jesus was, truly, somewhat close to actual
starvation. Words could not describe the desperate HUNGER that
Satan struck directly at Jesus' weakest state at the moment.
He hurled his first blow in this contest for the greatest stakes
ever fought for, at what he well knew to be humanity's weakest
point both spiritually and physically -- vanity, and hunger:
"IF," Satan must have sneered insultingly, "IF thou be the
Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."
A spiritually weaker human would have bristled up, angrily
answering back, "IF I be the Son of God -- what do you mean, IF?
I'll show you whether I'm the Son of God! I'll show you I can
perform miracles!" And, to satisfy His desperate hunger, He would
have fallen into Satan's subtile trap!
But Jesus held fast His OBEDIENCE to GOD! He answered, ''It
is written,'' going immediately to God's Scripture, ''Man shall
not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of
the mouth of God!"
Satan had lost out on his most masterful thrust of
temptation. But Satan does not give up easily! How well I know
that, by experience! He struck again.
"If thou be the Son of God," -- Satan repeated his stab at
humanity's weakest point -- vanity -- but now under different
circumstances. He had taken Jesus up to a pinnacle of the temple.
"Cast thy self down: for it is written" -- now Satan could quote
Scripture, too, only he misapplied its intended meaning -- "It is
written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in
their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot
against a stone," -- or lest inertia wallop you as gravity pulls
you speedily to earth. He was testing Jesus' FAITH in God, as
well as a repeated challenge against human vanity. Satan's
ministers can quote Scripture -- but they twist and distort it out
of its intended contextual meaning.
Jesus came right back at Satan.
''It is written again,'' He said, ''Thou shalt not tempt the
[Eternal] thy God."
The scripture about angels bearing one up IF he falls
applies only to an accidental fall. To jump off deliberately
would be "tempting God." In other words, doubting the Word of God
in its intended meaning, and TESTING God -- putting God to the
test, implying doubt that He would do it!
Satan had one more "ace-in-the-hole." He now tempted Jesus
on lust and greed -- on GETTING -- on seizure of POWER!
Satan now took Jesus to the top of a high mountain, and
showed Jesus all the kingdoms of this world. Then he said, "All
these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship
In other words, both Satan and Jesus knew that if Jesus
QUALIFIED, He would be given RULE over the governments of all
nations on earth. But they both knew of God's 6,000-year sentence
on humanity -- and Jesus would have to wait almost 2,000 more years
for the POWER and GLORY of world rule.
Jesus did not deny this power of rule, by Satan's subtile
DECEPTIONS, was in Satan's hands. But He also knew Satan was a
liar -- would not keep his word -- and if he did, Jesus still would
have world rule only UNDER SATAN. He knew it was GOD'S to give,
and He was definitely prepared to wait until GOD'S TIME -- after
the 6,000-year sentence on man, when GOD would crown Him and send
Him again to earth in supreme splendor, power and glory!
This time, Jesus decided to put an end to this colossal
struggle for world power. "Get thee hence, Satan!" Jesus snapped
out the command with AUTHORITY! And Satan, defeated in his bid to
retain world sway, slunk away (Matt. 4:10-11).
But don't think Satan gave up! Not yet! He tried to
overthrow God's apostles, and His Church. He schemed to
manipulate human powers to persecute God's Church, and to
SUPPRESS Christ's Gospel Message of WORLD HOPE! He is still
warring savagely against God's Church and apostle, even in this
final generation of his evil world!
But JESUS CHRIST LIVES! GOD IS ON HIS THRONE, with Jesus
there at His right hand. And Satan can do only what God allows!
Back, now, to Mark 1:14: "Now after that John was put in
prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching THE GOSPEL OF THE
KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the
KINGDOM OF GOD is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."
That is, believe the MESSAGE Jesus proclaimed announcing the
coming world-ruling KINGDOM OF GOD!
The time was fulfilled. Jesus had QUALIFIED, where the first
Adam failed, to wrest world rule from Satan -- to RESTORE God's
government to the earth -- to establish the Spirit-born Family of
God, ruling in THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
Leaving Nazareth, Jesus took up residence in Capernaum, on
the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was no vagabond. He
occupied an established home, contrary to much false supposition
And immediately Jesus called His disciples to Him -- to teach
and train them to become His apostles to go forth with His
Message of THE KINGDOM OF GOD, after Jesus' personal mission on
earth had ended.
Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He
called to follow Him two brothers, Peter and Andrew. These
brothers had not sought out Jesus. They had not aspired to become
His apostles -- they had chosen to be fishermen. But they now, at
Jesus' word, FORSOOK ALL, and followed Him!
Next Jesus called to His discipleship two other
brothers -- James and John. They too, had elected to be
fishermen -- not apostles. (Matt. 4:18-22.)
Matthew had chosen to be a tax collector. But to His twelve,
Jesus later said, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you."
And, as in Mark 1:14-15, so in Matthew's account, "Jesus
went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, and
preaching the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM" (verse 23).
Until Jesus had QUALIFIED to restore God's government by
overcoming Satan, there could be no assurance, save in the mind
and purpose of God, of the restoration of the govern ment Satan
For some three and a half years Jesus went about the land of
Israel, preaching in their synagogues the GOOD NEWS of the
world's future HOPE, teaching and training His disciples to
Finally, after being beaten with stripes, that His Church
might have physical healing, Jesus was crucified -- that by His
shed blood our sins might be forgiven -- because He had paid our
penalty, death, in our stead.
The Church Is Born
After being three days and three nights dead in the tomb, Jesus
was resurrected. By this resurrection, He became the first BORN
Son of God (Rom. 1:4). He was now VERY GOD Himself -- the first so
BORN of many brethren to follow by a later resurrection.
After His resurrection, Jesus was forty days with His
apostles, "speaking of the things pertaining to THE KINGDOM OF
GOD" (Acts 1:3).
Then He ascended to heaven, to the right hand of God on the
heavenly throne (Heb. 12:2; Rev. 3:21).
Ten days later (the year was A.D. 31), came the annual Holy
Day called "the Feast of the First Fruits," and, in the New
Testament, "the day of Pentecost."
Of the many thousands who had heard Jesus' proclaiming the
KINGDOM OF GOD, there were, after the 3 1/2 years, only 120 who
believed! (Acts 1:15.)
On that festive Holy Day, beside the 120 disciples, there
were gathered devout Jews from many parts of the world.
Then an unprecedented and amazing spectacle happened. It was
the welcoming display of the coming of God's HOLY SPIRIT to fill
His Church! And it has never been repeated!
It happened suddenly! "There came a sound from heaven as of
a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they
[the 120 disciples] were sitting" (Acts 2:2). Wind can make a
considerable noise. God's Holy Spirit is compared, elsewhere, to
wind (John 3:8). Let it be noted that no such wind-sound is heard
in modern-day "pentecostal" meetings!
But the disciples not only heard -- they saw this super
natural display. "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues
like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them" -- each of the 120
(Acts 2:3). And they, the 120, "were all filled with the Holy
[Spirit], and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit
gave them utterance" (Verse 4).
Word of this supernatural display spread rapidly, and then
it was that the many devout Jews from the many nations came
running in -- "and they were confounded, because that every man
heard them [the 120] speak in his own language." Note it! Each
individual, in his own native language, heard them -- the
120 -- speaking in his own foreign language. And they understood
clearly, in their own various languages, what the 120 were
saying. The miracle was in the HEARING, rather than the speaking!
Then Peter, chief apostle, for the first time inspired with
God's Holy Spirit, preached a heart-stirring sermon, showing that
Jesus was both Lord (King-Ruler) and Christ (Savior).
That same day God "ADDED unto them about three thou sand
souls" who were baptized that same day (Acts 2:41).
And thus THE CHURCH OF GOD -- the same Church that is known
today as the WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD was born. The line of
succession will be shown later by which the Worldwide Church of
God is positively identified as the continuation of THE SAME
Now WHY the Church? Its Purpose
When Jesus Christ returns to earth in supernatural splendor,
power and glory, He is coming to His TEMPLE. But where is that
temple -- when will it be built?
Many students of the Bible have wondered -- speculated. Will
the Israelis, after all, destroy the "Dome of the Rock" -- the
Moslem temple standing today on the site of both Solomon's
temple, and the temple to which Jesus came at His first
Malachi's prophecy says: "Behold I will send my messenger,
and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye
seek [Christ], shall suddenly come to his temple, even the
messenger of the covenant ..." (Mal. 3:1).
It was John the Baptist who prepared the way -- but that was
before Jesus' FIRST coming. When we read on through verses 2-6 it
becomes altogether evident that this prophecy in Malachi is
talking about Christ's second coming, in power and glory, to
WHO, then, as a human messenger (one bearing a message) was
to prepare the way before His SECOND coming? And what of the
temple to which He is to come?
Look briefly at the prophecy of Haggai. It concerns the
contingent of Jews who returned to Jerusalem seventy years after
the destruction of Solomon's temple to build the second temple on
the same site.
The prophecy concerns Zerubbabel, governor of the
contingent, and builder of this second temple. This was the same
temple to which Jesus did come -- except that the Roman King Herod
had somewhat enlarged, restored, and embellished it.
But Zerubbabel was merely a TYPE. The prophecy, as we see
plainly beginning verse 6, chapter 2, is millennial.
"For thus saith the [Eternal] of hosts: Yet once, in a
little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and
the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the
desire [RSV has, 'so that the treasures of all nations shall
come'] of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with
glory, saith the [Eternal] of hosts.... The glory of this
latter house shall be greater than of the former ..." (verses
It is speaking of the end-time -- at the second coming of
Now what does it mean, "the glory of this latter house (or
latter-day house) shall be greater than that of the
former?" -- that is, greater than Solomon's temple, which had the
most glorious splendor of any building on earth? Certainly the
second temple, built by Zerubbabel, even though larger, could not
compare in splendor to Solomon's.
But God was speaking of the temple to which Christ shall
come, at His glorious second coming as King of kings and Lord of
Jesus Christ came the first time still in the days of Old
Covenant Israel -- a carnal minded and rebellious people. It was a
material temple, even as He came to a physical, carnal people!
But He is coming the second time in supreme power and glory.
He will come this time to a GLORIOUS TEMPLE -- a SPIRITUAL, not a
Of God's Church He says, in the second chapter of Ephesians,
"Now, therefore ye are of the household [Family] of God, [the
CHURCH] and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and the
prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in
whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy
temple in the Lord" (emphasis mine, Eph. 2:19-22).
The glorified Christ is coming to the glorified temple -- with
a glory far greater than Solomon's temple!
Note it. Christ is not coming to a material building, but to
His Church, then to be GLORIFIED with Him!
Notice further, in Ephesians chapter 3: "From whom the whole
body [body of Christ-the Church!] fitly joined together and
compacted by that which every joint supplieth ..." (verse 16).
Now let's UNDERSTAND!
Old Testament Israel, both Church and state, lived in the
days of the first Adam. They had the one "human" spirit -- they
were carnal minded, hostile against God, not subject to the law
of God. But God gave them His laws (spiritual, as well as
sacrificial, ceremonial, and statutory). It proved that with out
the second Spirit -- the Holy Spirit of God, people would not turn
to the right way of life -- even though God revealed to them the
knowledge -- not only of Himself -- but of His GOVERNMENT!
But the New Testament Church of God started out with God's
Holy Spirit added to the "human" spirit, even from its inception.
The Old Testament sacrificial laws and ceremonial rituals
were a mere temporary substitute for Christ and the Holy Spirit.
When the reality came, the substitute was ended -- but the basic
SPIRITUAL LAW -- the law of LOVE, codified in the Ten
Commandments -- continued. But the CHURCH was required, having the
Holy Spirit, to obey them not merely according to the strictness
of the letter but according to the spirit -- or principal, or
obvious intent, of the law (II Cor. 3:6).
Now we come to the purpose and function of the Church of
Immediately after the foundation of the Church, the apostles
Peter and John performed a sensational healing of a well-known
cripple -- after which Peter preached to the crowd that was
attracted (Acts 3:1-26). But immediately the priests, captains of
the temple, and Sadducees threw the apostles into prison
overnight (Acts 4:1-3). And the next morning the apostles were
brought before the high priest and his family beside other rulers
and dignitaries. They were severely THREATENED and commanded to
cease preaching in the name of Christ.
These apostles were human. This experience was unnerving!
They went immediately to a company of CHURCH MEMBERS for
encouragement, prayer and morale strengthening (Acts 4:23).
These loyal Church brethren "lifted up their voice to God"
(Acts 4:24), in united prayer, petitioning God for inspiration
and divine power, that the apostles might continue boldly
proclaiming the Message.
Notice here an important function of the Church. The Church
lay members did not go forth with the Message -- they backed up,
unitedly, the apostles who were charged with THE GREAT
COMMISSION. Notice: "And when they had prayed, the place was
shaken where they were assembled together" (Acts 4:31).
These Church brethren were able to stand solidly and loyally
back of the apostles, because they "were of one heart and of one
soul [mind]" (verse 32).
Later, when the savage persecution had set in, the apostle
James was martyred, King Herod also had Peter cast into prison,
with the intent probably of killing him also (Acts 12:1-4).
"But," verse 5, "prayer was made without ceasing of the
church unto God for him.''
The result? God sent an angel to loose the chains that bound
Peter, and to lead him secretly out of the prison. Peter fled on
The Prevailing Error
At this point it is well to clarify further a most common and
universal erroneous belief. It is the assumption that God is
desperately waging a contest against Satan, attempting to get
every living human "saved" NOW! This assumption must con cede
that Satan is winning that contest overwhelmingly! But there is
NO SUCH CONTEST. Satan has power to do ONLY what God ALLOWS!
The corollary to this assumption is an even more tragic
belief that has acquired universal acceptance. And that is the
fallacy that everyone not now "saved" is "lost" -- condemned to an
eternal hell fire -- which, incidentally, is also a myth. The vast
majority are neither "saved" nor "lost." Just not yet JUDGED!
It was our first human progenitor that made the CHOICE. God
accepted his decision, and pronounced sentence on Adam's world
for 6,000 years -- except for those God called for some special
performance. The 6,000 year sentence is about to expire -- and a
happy, joyful world of PEACE, with eternal life available to all,
is now just around the corner!
Jesus Christ emphatically verified this sentence God
pronounced on the world. He said plainly, "NO MAN CAN come unto
me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44).
And none can come to God, except through Him!
So let us clarify once for all time that the purpose of the
Church is definitely NOT to preach or persuade the whole world
into a spiritual salvation, NOW -- before Christ's second coming!
Some have construed the GREAT COMMISSION as being to the
Church to fulfill as a whole -- to evangelize and "save" the
world -- NOW! A large system of missionaries from traditional
Christianity has resulted.
Examine, now, the three places where THE GREAT COMMISSION is
First, the report of THE GREAT COMMISSION recorded in
"Now the eleven disciples" (Judas already had left them)
"went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed
them. And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some
doubted. And Jesus came and said to them ..." To WHOM? Not the
Church as a whole! Only to the disciples who were to become the
original APOSTLES! "... 'All authority in heaven and on earth
has been given to me. GO, therefore, and make disciples
[learners -- those taught] of all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I
am with you always, to the close of the age' " (Matt. 28:16-20,
Notice carefully. This GREAT COMMISSION to be SENT FORTH
with Christ's Gospel Message was given only to those who were
apostles -- and the word "apostle" means "one sent forth" with the
The King James translation of the above has been
MISinterpreted by some to imply that ALL the people in every
nation were to be converted then.
The King James version has: "Go ye therefore, and teach all
nations, baptizing them ..." The sense is, "teach within all
nations," NOT teaching every individual. The RSV translation,
above quoted, also has this same sense. "Make
disciples -- students -- learners -- to HEAR the Message within all
nations." And, "baptizing them" can refer ONLY to those God
specially called, since Christ said plainly, "NO MAN CAN come to
me, except the Father which sent me draw him."
Now examine Mark's account of THE GREAT COMMISSION (chapter
16). Most translations from the original Greek text into English
OMIT verses 9-20, saying these verses were NOT INSPIRED and were
added at a later date by uninspired editors. Even so, the RSV
does quote these verses in finer type, starting verse 15, as
follows: "And he said to them" -- the eleven apostles -- "Go into all
the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation." That is,
announce the GOOD NEWS of the coming Kingdom of God. Continue:
"He who believes and is baptized will be saved...." But Jesus
plainly said NO MAN could come to Christ -- believe -- except those
specially called by the Father!
Notice now the King James translation: "Afterward he [Jesus]
appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, ... and he said
unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to
every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved
baptized EXCEPT those God the Father specially called. So there
is NOWHERE ANY CONTRADICTION. The GREAT COMMISSION was given to
the APOSTLES -- those "sent forth" with the Message -- NOT the lay
members of the Church.
What, then? Did not the lay members have any part in
proclaiming the gospel? Definitely they did, as we have seen.
Their part was to back up the apostles -- stand behind them with
their prayers, encouragement, tithes and offerings. They are PART
OF A WELL-ORGANIZED TEAM, as we shall show in more detail.
And there is NO EVIDENCE in either Matthew's account or
Mark's, that any were to be baptized except those God the Father
had called to a special service.
But NOTHING contradicts the fact that God had with drawn His
Holy Spirit from ALL, except those specially called.
Now notice the account in Matthew 24. This is in the form of
a prophecy, for our present living generation:
The King James has, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be
preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and
then shall the end [of this age] come" (Matt. 24:14).
The RSV is the same in meaning: "And this gospel of the
kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a
testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."
The Church an Organized Body
Is the Church of God merely a scattered, isolated, number of
professing Christians, each going his own way to get out the
Gospel -- or, as many believe, to GET his personal salvation and
Jesus Christ specially called His disciples, trained them to
become His apostles. To THEM -- the apostles -- the ones "sent forth"
with His Gospel message -- He gave THE GREAT COMMISSION -- not to the
laity of the Church as a whole.
But WHAT OF GOD'S CHURCH? HOW IS IT ORGANIZED? It is a
spiritual organism but also it is PHYSICALLY ORGANIZED, as we
shall now see.
The Church is the begotten Family -- or household of God (Eph.
2:19), "And are built upon the FOUNDATION of the apostles and
prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone"
It is, continues verse 21, like a "building fitly framed
together [which] groweth unto an holy TEMPLE in the Lord."
It is the TEMPLE to which Christ shall come at His second
coming in GLORY! It is that Body of Christ that is the affianced
BRIDE of Christ, to be married to Him (as the Old Covenant was a
marriage covenant) when He returns.
Ephesians says: "... Christ also loved the church, and
gave himself for it, that he might present it to himself a
GLORIOUS CHURCH" (Eph. 5:25-27) in the resurrection!
Of that same marriage, Revelation says: "Alleluia: for the
Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and
give honour to him: for the MARRIAGE of the Lamb [Christ] is
come, and his wife [the resurrected glorified Church] hath made
herself ready" (Rev. 19:6-7).
It is not only a SPIRITUAL ORGANISM -- it is a well-organized
physical ORGANIZATION! Notice I Corinthians 12: "... brethren I
would not have you ignorant" (I Cor. 12:1). "But now are they
many members, YET BUT ONE BODY" (verse 20.)
And it is a well-ORGANIZED body (verses 4-6, 11-12): "Now
there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there
are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there
are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which
worketh all in all ... But all these worketh that one and the
selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For
the body is ONE" -- (united, organized into cooperative
team-work -- not scattered individuals, each claiming to serve God
in his own way!
Continuing: "For ... the body is ONE, and hath many
members, and all the members of that ONE BODY, being many, are
ONE BODY, so also is Christ. For by ONE SPIRIT are we all
baptized into one body ... That there should be no schism
[division] in the body; but that the members should have the same
care [that is, outgoing concern and love] one for another"
(verses 12-13, 25).
Continuing: "And God hath set some in the church, first
apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that
miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities
Now back to Ephesians. What about the member who GOES OUT OF
THE CHURCH, to have his own relationship with Christ -- to GET his
own salvation? He is OUTSIDE the body of Christ!
Notice, again, the "household of God" -- the CHURCH -- is built
upon a FOUNDATION. Would one build a BUILDING on a foundation of
shifting sand? God's Church is built upon "the FOUNDATION of the
apostles [the New Testament], and prophets [Old Testament, whose
prophecies are for US TODAY (I Cor. 10:11)], Jesus Christ himself
being the chief corner stone" (Eph. 2:19-20).
How WELL ORGANIZED?
"In whom all the building [the Church] fitly framed
together, groweth into an holy TEMPLE in the Lord" (verse 21).
Further: "From the whole body fitly joined together and
compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the
effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase
of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:16).
Yes, Christ ORGANIZED His Church.
"And his gifts were, that some should be apostles, some
prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers" (Eph.
4:11, RSV), continuing in KJV: "For the perfecting of the saints,
for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of
Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure
of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:12-13).
What about a single member, "a joint, or part," going off by
itself -- or following a MAN instead of the CHURCH OF GOD that is
in direct continuous succession from the apostolic Church founded
by Christ, in A.D. 31? He is like a joint or a piece of wood or
stone, entirely outside of, and therefore NO PART OF the BODY OF
CHRIST that shall MARRY Christ!
We have seen that Christ gave the lay body of the Church the
SPECIAL MISSION to back up His apostles in their GOING FORTH with
the Gospel to the world -- with their prayers, encouragement,
tithes and offerings.
But this GIVING of their prayers, encouragement and
financial support was GOD'S ASSIGNMENT as the very means of
developing in them God's holy, righteous CHARACTER -- that they,
with the apostles and evangelists, may qualify to RULE with and
under Christ in God's Kingdom. This very means of character
development within the laity is THE WAY OF GIVING -- not Satan's
way of GETTING.
God's WAY -- the WAY of His law -- is GIVING of outflowing LOVE.
It is the GIVING way. The person who tries to be an individual
separate Christian, to GET his own salvation, is going at it the
GETTING way -- Satan's way. And I would not want to try to GET
myself into God's Kingdom by Satan's way.
Notice again WHY God set apostles, evangelists, pastors and
other elders in His Church NOT ONLY for the work of the ministry,
being SENT FORTH into all the world announcing Christ's Message
of HOPE. Read it again (Eph. 4:12-13): It was "for the perfecting
of the saints, ... and for the edifying [en
lightening -- instructing] of the body of Christ, TILL we all come
in the UNITY of the faith, and of the KNOWLEDGE of the Son of
God, unto a perfect man...."
But cannot a single separate individual EDIFY HIMSELF,
outside of the Church? Not likely -- and THAT IS NOT GOD'S WAY.
How does God infuse HIS TRUTH into the Church? NOT through
each individual separately -- but through the apostles, and other
ministers under them.
In the time of the first apostles -- first century -- the Bible
was not yet completely written. God used a very few prophets,
through whom He communicated. The prophets gave the message to an
apostle. Today the Bible is complete. God has used no prophets in
the Church in our time.
However, the laity of the first century Church received
their teaching and instruction from the apostles. The original
twelve had been taught by Christ in person -- and so also had Paul.
Jesus Christ was the personal Word of God. The Bible is the
written Word of God. It's all the precise same TRUTH and
TEACHING, whether from Jesus in person, when on earth, or from
the written Word of God. God's apostle for our day was taught by
the written Word of God -- the SAME IDENTICAL TEACHING!
But what of the separated individual believer, who tries to
GET his salvation all by himself -- or by following some MAN, or
any of hundreds of professing Christian denominations of our day?
He is CUT OFF from that TRUE teaching which Christ reveals to and
through His apostle!
What if one in the Church disagrees on some point of
doctrine? Then he is out of harmony with God's Church. And GOD
HAS ONLY THE ONE CHURCH.
And all in the Church are commanded to speak the same
thing -- and it must be what CHRIST, either in person, or by
written Word, has taught His apostle.
To the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote: "Now I
beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
ye all speak the same thing ..."(I Cor. 1:10). Some of them
wanted to follow Peter, some wanted to follow Apollos, some Paul.
But PAUL was their apostle, and Christ taught them by PAUL.
The separated individual believer will follow his own idea
of God's truth. THAT IS NOT GOD'S WAY.
God in His almighty wisdom, has raised up the CHURCH, as HIS
MEANS of teaching all the SAME TRUTH -- all speaking the SAME
THING! Not each individual his own thing!
God raised up the CHURCH, not only that its apostles and
evangelists go into all the world announcing the GOOD NEWS of the
coming Kingdom of God, but also, as the very means for the
general body of lay members to develop God's own holy righteous
CHARACTER -- by means of GIVING -- giving their continuous prayers
for the apostle, giving their encouragement, tithes and
WHAT, then, of the person who follows after a man outside
the Church -- or tries to GET his salvation, simply by GETTING -- and
not GIVING that which members are to give to the Church's Work?
Consider Jesus' parable of the pounds in Luke 19. The pound is
the British unit of money. Jesus illustrated Himself giving each
member, on conversion, "one pound" -- representing the Holy Spirit
given at conversion. But the Christian MUST GROW in grace and
Christ's knowledge. As he does, by GIVING in the Church, he
receives an increasing amount of God's Spirit. The isolated,
separated member will probably LOSE OUT (see Luke 19:20-24).
In Summary: WHY THE CHURCH?
Finally, WHY the Church? WHY did not Christ just "save" separated
individuals? What is the REAL PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH?
Like most everything in the Bible, the purpose and function
of the Church has been grossly misunderstood. The entire world
has been deceived by Satan (Rev. 12:9).
Jesus had not come on a "soul-saving crusade." The most
widespread false assumption of all is that Christ is contesting
against Satan to "get everybody saved NOW!" And with it, the
supposition that all not saved are "LOST" -- condemned! They are
neither. They are not yet JUDGED!
But in Adam, by his decision, all humanity has been
sentenced to 6,000 years of being completely cut off from God!
That is, all except the comparative very few specifically called
for a special mission.
Jesus Christ, I repeat, emphatically verified this
6,000-year sentence. (John 6:44.) No scripture can or does
contradict that plain statement of Jesus.
Jesus called, chose, and for 3˝ years trained His apostles
to become, with Him and the prophets, the FOUNDATION on which the
Church was built. Also He set the example, those 3˝ years, for
His apostles, in proclaiming (announcing) the coming KINGDOM OF
GOD. Then Christ died for the sins of humanity, and was
resurrected, and ascended to God's throne in heaven.
On the day of Pentecost, A.D. 31, He sent the Holy Spirit in
a great manifestation both visible and audible, to found His
On that day of Pentecost, it was Peter, chief apostle, who
proclaimed the Gospel Message -- and that day God ADDED three
thousand baptized that same day.
A day or so later -- very possibly the very next day -- Peter
and John healed the cripple and Peter preached the gospel. God
ADDED another two thousand to the Church.
It is significant, and generally unrealized, that neither
Jesus nor the apostles embarked on any "soul-saving crusade,"
which is a modern Protestant practice. The apostles, as Jesus had
done, proclaimed the gospel -- the GOOD NEWS of a coming BETTER
WORLD. It was not an emotional pleading, "Won't you give your
heart to the Lord?"
True, because unbelieving Jews did not accept Jesus as their
promised Messiah, the apostles, at first, put special emphasis on
the fact they were eye-witnesses to Jesus' Messiahship and
resurrection. They had been with Him 3 ˝ years before He was
crucified, and forty days after He rose from the dead.
But they did proclaim the same Message Jesus had taught
them -- the coming Kingdom of God. It was not a begging for
"souls." "... the Lord added to the church such as should be
saved" (Acts 2:47).
When the apostles met with fierce persecution, imprisonment
and threat, the laity of the Church ENCOURAGED them, prayed
heartrendingly for them, supported them financially.
So, let the truth be clarified once for all, the PURPOSE of
the Church was NOT to "get the world saved NOW!"
God's PURPOSE in raising up His Church in a world otherwise
CUT OFF from God, was dual:
1) To provide a united body of Spirit-led believers to back
up the apostles (and evangelists) who had been specially trained
to GO FORTH into all the world with Christ's Gospel Message. All
this, as their part in THE GREAT COMMISSION. Theirs was a WORK OF
GIVING -- giving of their prayers -- their encouragement, and
financial support of the ORGANIZED Gospel WORK. And this as GOD
's means of, and the training ground for,
2) the overcoming of Satan, and the constant development of
that holy, righteous CHARACTER thus qualifying them to sit with
Christ on the throne of earth-wide GOVERN MENT.
GOD'S WAY of developing His holy character was THE GIVING
WAY. GOD'S way of life is the GIVING way of outgoing LOVE.
Satan's way is INcoming self-advantage -- hostility to God's way
and to His Church.
Those who allow an attitude of hostility and rebellion
against God's Church -- and God's GOVERNMENT within His Church -- to
cause them to leave, and "go it alone," or follow a MAN, are
seeking merely TO GET salvation FOR THE SELF! That is NOT God's
The GLORY on Beyond!
Happily, the 6,000-year sentence on Adam's world -- being cut off
from God, is due to END in our present living generation. This
world, now -- still Satan's world except for God's CHURCH -- is fast
plunging into the supreme CRISIS of world tribulation. But it is
said to be "darkest just before dawn!"
Then, SUDDENLY, when least expected by the "cut-off world,"
Jesus Christ will come in supreme supernatural POWER AND GLORY!
Yes, "at such an hour as ye think not," said Jesus.
His CHURCH will have been made ready!
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we
which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not
[precede] them that are asleep [dead]. For the Lord himself shall
descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the
archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ
shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be
caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in
the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thes.
4:15-17). He is coming to RULE ALL THE EARTH!
Then shall be fulfilled Revelation 19:6-7: the mighty voice
of the archangel shouting, "ALLELUJA! for the Lord God omnipotent
reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice!..." The Church,
resurrected IN GLORY, shall reign with Christ a thousand years!
Satan will be banished! God will call ALL LIVING to His
salvation. After the Millennium shall come the GREAT WHITE THRONE
JUDGMENT (Rev. 20:11-12) when all who had been cut off from God
for 6,000 years shall be resurrected MORTAL -- and all called to
God's salvation and eternal life!
Then, the glorious eternity beyond -- all saints then
immortal, inheriting the transcendent human potential -- RENEWING
THE FACE OF ALL DECAYED PLANETS, FINISHING THE GLORIOUS BEAUTIFUL
CREATION THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE ENDLESS UNIVERSE -- in happiness, joy