More than 80 years ago, Herbert W. Armstrong was challenged to make an in-depth study of the Bible. During his extensive research, he began to see that the Bible, though misunderstood by the vast majority of mankind, did indeed contain answers to the most important questions in life. Over the years, Mr. Armstrong developed a unique understanding of the questions that have always perplexed mankind. Mystery of the Ages is a product of that understanding. Each chapter contains a key that unlocks your understanding to the most perplexing questions that have puzzled scholars and philosophers for thousands of years.
And the first—and most important—question he asked in this book is: Who and what is God?
In the preface, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “And if the all-powerful God was your Maker, and exists as the divine Creator of all that is, then the mystery about God emerges, in order of time sequence, as the first and paramount mystery of all.”
In other words, who and what is God is the most important question to consider. As a young person in God’s Church, sanctified by your parents (1 Corinthians 7:14), you need to answer this question for yourself.
God Makes Himself Known
“That is a mystery not understood by any religion, not explained by science, untaught by higher education,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “The intellectually vain originators of the evolutionary theory found the existence of God, as presented by religion, a mystery they could neither understand nor accept. But the religionists whom they rejected did not themselves understand the mystery of God. Yet God does reveal Himself through His Word the Holy Bible, if these religionists would only believe God’s own revelation.”
God does make Himself known. Yet Mr. Armstrong explained that the scholars have rejected this truth—including the theologians who have studied the Word of God, in some cases, their entire lives! They too have been in ignorance of the plain truth that God reveals about His awesome purpose for man.
“The billions now living on Earth not only are ignorant of the most important knowledge—who and what God is—they seem not to want to know! They are willingly in ignorance of this most important knowledge and relationship possible in human life!
“And why have humans been willingly ignorant of man’s most important relationship? One explanation, only, is possible! All nations have been deceived (Revelation 12:9). And the fact of this universal deception makes certain the fact of a super deceiver!” (ibid).
Satan has blinded this world to the truth about the gospel that Jesus brought 2,000 years ago to this Earth—the truth of the soon-coming Kingdom of God, God’s Family administering His government all over the Earth. This world has been in general blinded to that marvelous truth, and yet God reveals it plainly in Scripture.
Get your Bible, read along with me, and see what God reveals about Himself—and about your future as a teen in God’s Church. Understand, or at least get the beginning information that you need to start to answer that question: Who and what is God? God will make it possible for us, if we are humble and childlike as we ought to be (Matthew 11:25), to really understand revelation from Him. We have to be as little children: teachable and willing to look into His Word. There are plenty on this Earth who see God as Creator, Provider or Protector. They see the forgiveness and mercy in God’s plan. But once you establish that God is Creator, once you understand that God exists, you have to go forward from there and understand the purpose. Why are we here? What are we doing? Why is the world in the condition it is in today, and what’s coming? What’s ahead? All of those answers are in the Bible. You can know.
“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me” (Isaiah 1:1-2). That is what the prophet says about mankind, about ancient Israelites in particular. That same spirit of rebellion—that same ignorance—exists to this day.
Why Is God Unreal?
“It is important at the very outset of this chapter that you notice God calls these humans His own children. Many people say, ‘God just doesn’t seem real to me.’ God is a great mystery to them. Their own human fathers don’t seem like a mystery. They seem real,” Mr. Armstrong wrote.
He dwelled on this point. Why should God be a mystery? A human father isn’t a mystery. You see him. You feel him. You can see what he is doing and hear what he says. Why should God the Father be such a mystery to His children. This is getting to that most important answer that we need.
Mr. Armstrong said his goal was to help you see that God the Father is real—He should be more real than your own human father. And if you go into your study with the right attitude, He can be. He should be. He will be.
“The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (verse 3). Mr. Armstrong talked about his visit to New Delhi. He was a in a taxi and asked the driver after seeing all these cows and oxen in the streets: “How do people know who owns all those animals.” The driver told him, “Those oxen know their owners and they meander through the streets during the day, but they know how to get back to their owners’ houses at night.”
Mr. Armstrong immediately thought of Isaiah 1:3. Here you have these animals that really don’t know anything, yet they know enough to get back to their owners, their masters. Yet God says about His own people: They don’t know me! They don’t know how to get home, so to speak. They don’t know the great God who created them. They don’t know that I’m a Father.
God is a Father. It says that over and over in the New Testament. Jesus came to reveal the Father. God is in the process of begetting and bringing sons along. He’s building a Family. He’s growing His Family, and it starts in the smallest of ways with Jesus Christ as the firstborn Son of God. That’s how the New Testament talks about Jesus Christ: as God’s Son! He was born first. What does that mean? That there are others to come! There will be the second-born, the third-born, the fourth-born, and on you go.
One of the most obvious proofs that God is a Father, that He’s family-oriented, that He is building a Family—particularly as you head into the New Testament—are the hundreds of references to God as a Father, to Jesus Christ as a Son, to sons plural, and to Jesus Christ marrying the Church. Family is all through the Bible.
God and the Word
John 1:1-3 say, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”
This is talking about the one who became Jesus Christ. From the beginning, He was the Word—He was God! He lived with God. There was God and the Word, and these two were of one mind, totally unified in this awesome purpose that we now see unfolding before us—God reproducing Himself. It is clear what God is working out here below from the earliest point in history recorded in the Bible.
Continuing in verse 14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” This Word, this great Spirit being, became the Son of God. You know the history: God miraculously intervened in Mary’s life, bringing on that pregnancy to where Jesus, born in the flesh had a human mother, but was sired of God. God Himself was His Father, even when Jesus was born in the flesh.
Mr. Armstrong wrote: “The Word, then, is a Personage who was made flesh—begotten by God, who through this later begettal became His Father. Yet at that prehistoric time of the first verse of John 1, the Word was not (yet) the Son of God. He divested himself of His glory as a spirit divinity to be begotten as a human person. He was made God’s Son, through being begotten or sired by God and born of the virgin Mary.” So He became God’s Son at that precise time when Mary was impregnated.
The Apostle Paul wrote about Christ’s physical heritage in Romans 1:3: “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” So He came from the line of David. That was His physical heritage.
Paul continued in verse 4: “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” He was from the line of David in the physical, fleshly sense, and declared to be the Son of God according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead when Christ walked out of that tomb as a resurrected spirit being, then born into God’s Family as God’s own Spirit-born Son! That’s what the Scriptures reveal here. Christ was certainly also God’s Son when He walked the Earth in the flesh—He was sired of God—but in the spiritual sense that fleshly beginning was like a begettal stage with the actual birth happening when He became God’s Son spiritually.
God’s Plan for Man
Now let’s tie the rest of us into this grand purpose and plan that God is working out here below.
In Romans 1, Paul compared Christ’s physical and spiritual births. Now let’s see what he said in Romans 8:14: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Here in Romans 8, God says if someone is being led by the Spirit, if God’s nature dwells in a person, then He considers that person a son, a child begotten spiritually. But where is it leading?
Verse 15 says: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption [sonship], whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
That word “adoption” is a woeful mistranslation; it should read “sonship.” How plain are these scriptures! We are made in the image of God and God is bringing children into His family. That’s not a mystery when you look at civilization and all of the physical families that are out there. Why is it such a mystery in the spiritual sense? How can people not know today that God is reproducing Himself? This is the answer to who and what is God—the answer to what His purpose is. How do we factor in?
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (verse 16). We are God’s own children if we remain steadfast and endure to the end like it says in Matthew 24:13. If we endure all the way through to the end like so many of the great patriarchs of Scripture did, then we can actually experience this birth into the Family of God at the first resurrection.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). Notice what it says there: that Christ might be the firstborn among many brethren—meaning many brothers and sisters, many children, many family members. That’s the plain truth of the Bible, and it’s expounded on at length in Mystery of the Ages.
That is why you need this book. It will help you understand the Bible. It will help you answer the question: Who and what is God? It will open your eyes to this precious truth. What a marvelous vision. Can we just look at these scriptures, look at what is so plainly explained in Mystery of the Ages, and accept this truth for what it says and what it means?
The Firstborn of Billions
In Colossians, also written by the Apostle Paul, he had so much to say about family, children, God and this vision. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:14-15). Again, this refers to Jesus Christ like in Romans 8—the firstborn of many brethren. Ponder this great truth.
Verse 18: “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
How was Jesus born as a literal Son in the spiritual realm? It happened, as the Scriptures bring out, at His resurrection from the dead, and that’s what awaits true Christians. They will be resurrected from the dead or experience their transformation, as Paul talked about in 1 Thessalonians 4, if they are still alive in the physical sense. Then they will be born into the Family of God.
Now let’s go back to Genesis 1, the book of origins, the first book of the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
Mr. Armstrong wrote about this passage: “This originally was written by Moses as God inspired him. Moses wrote in Hebrew. The Hebrew word translated ‘God’ is Elohim—a noun or name, plural in form, but normally singular in grammatical usage. It is the same sort of word as family, church, group—one family consisting of two or more members—one church composed of many members—one group of several persons. It is referring to precisely the same Persons, making up or composing the one God, as we found in John 1:1—the Word and God—and each of those two Persons is God.” This passage is talking about when God brought everything into existence. Ephesians 3:9 says God did it through the one who became Jesus Christ. Remember from John 1 that you have God and the Word. There were these two beings, but what was their purpose? What were they doing? Who and what is God? What is it all about? Put these scriptures together, and you begin to get this brilliant visual of what God is working out here on this Earth.
Genesis 1:26 says: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” God said this. Elohim said this. They said this together. “Let us”—notice the word us; there’s more than one—there are two: God and the Word. God made the animals after their kind, and the fish after their kind, and the birds after their kind, but then He gets to us, He gets to human beings, and He says Let us make man after our image! Let’s make men look like us, but even more importantly, let’s create, let’s reproduce our character, our nature, a love—an unselfish giving—and let’s replicate that across the entire universe!
I know you look at the world today, and you don’t see that lifestyle. Not yet. You see a civilization under the influence of Satan the devil, that great deceiver, as Mr. Armstrong talked about. But that’s soon coming to an end, and when Jesus Christ returns to this Earth, God’s Family will begin to expand, and in a massive way! It starts with the firstfruits, those few called into the Church to help Jesus Christ, to marry Christ and help bring forth children into the Family of God by the billions!
We have only scratched the surface here, which is why you need Mystery of the Ages—so you can study it, dig into its precious truths, and thoroughly answer the most important question: Who and what is God?