Befuddled by religious confusion, many caring people ask: If God is a God of love and mercy, why does He allow little children to starve to death in Africa? Why are children beaten, brutally murdered, kidnapped and sexually abused? Why do young children have their lives cut short by cancer and other diseases? Why do crime, greed, hatred, poverty, selfishness and violence have an iron grip on our world?
What about you? Are you in a fog about God? Maybe some of the horrible examples mentioned above have happened in your life. If so, have you questioned God’s good nature, love and mercy? Because of the evil in this world, or because some heart-rending tragedy has happened in your life, do you doubt God’s existence or believe that somehow God is against you? Do you think God is unfair? Do God’s actions in history confuse you?
Let’s understand God and the purpose He is working out in your life and mine.
God’s Truth Shocking
While I was raised with religion, I was not taught to be a Bible reader—like most Roman Catholics. At age 19, I greatly upset my parents when I began reading the Bible. “You will go insane,” I was told. “You’ll leave the church,” they said as they pleaded with me to stop with the Bible “thing.” But I had to know what the Bible said. I reasoned that if my religion was based on the Bible, why not read it?
I purchased a King James Version of the Bible and began reading. However, I soon learned that this was not an easy book to read or understand. In fact, I could not understand most of it. The Bible was not like any other book I had read. A lot of it didn’t even seem to be religious—a lot of it was history. I only became more confused. I soon drifted away from the Bible and all organized religion.
At age 22, caught in a personal crisis, I knew I needed to get back to God and His religion. Since I had lost all confidence and trust in organized religion, I did not seek help from any church or minister. I simply started reading the Bible again. Though it was hard to understand, this time I stuck with it. I even prayed to God that He would show me His truth. I was desperate for help.
One night, disturbed over the events of the day, I could not sleep. I needed some hope and encouragement. I opened the Bible to John’s Gospel and began reading. Something was different. I understood what I was reading. In just the first four verses of chapter one, I learned that Jesus Christ had a pre-existence as the Word prior to His human birth. At the beginning of creation, He was with God—another person—and was also God. Then came a shock. God used the Word to create everything that has been created. That meant everything visible and invisible (Colossians 1:16). I had never heard anything like that in my life. Then it dawned on me: Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament. Wow!
Although I did not realize it at that time, God allowed me to understand those few verses to encourage me. He had answered my prayer. Still, I had to learn another important lesson.
You Need Instruction
I continued reading the Bible but was still struggling to understand it. I had read in Matthew 16:18 that Christ planned to build a church that would never die out. So Christ’s Church had to exist somewhere. I had no idea how to find it. Instead of going to just any church, I stayed at home Sunday mornings and flipped tv channels hunting for the true Church among the religious programs. I immediately dismissed all Catholic and Protestant telecasts. I had visited various Protestant churches and discovered they basically held the same beliefs as Catholics—they do not follow the whole Bible. I rejected the overly emotional programs—the Bible sections I was reading didn’t seem to be that way. I grew totally frustrated. Where was the Church that Christ built?
I nearly gave up. Then one Sunday morning when I turned on the television, a different kind of religious program flashed on the screen. The music and the announcer captured my attention. It was called the World Tomorrow program. And guess what? It just so happened that this particular program was about “The Real Jesus.” I was simply awestruck. Garner Ted Armstrong referred directly to the scriptures in John that I had come to understand. However, by the end of the program he showed me much more that I had not understood. Watching that program, I realized that I needed to be instructed on what the Bible teaches. At the end of that program, free literature explaining the Bible was offered upon request. I called for it immediately. That day began my nearly 40-year history with the Church that Christ built. And guess what? I still need instruction. And so do you.
Later, my wife and I came to find out that nearly 1,000 members of God’s Church—at that time called the Worldwide Church of God—were meeting every Sabbath day just a 15-minute drive from our apartment. We were amazed. God hid His Church from us until He permitted us to know specifically where it was.
No Man Can …
God not only allowed my wife and I to understand His truth, He gave us understanding about what He is doing in this world—how He is working on Earth at this time. (Believe it, God is actively working on Earth at this time!) We soon discovered that God and the way He does things are vastly different than what we thought, or what the vast majority of people in this world believe.
“Now I have said the hardest thing in the world for anyone to do is to admit you are wrong. And the next hardest thing is to believe God. Well along with that, it’s a most difficult thing for anyone to accept some new knowledge you never had before, especially if it’s spiritual knowledge out of the Bible,” Herbert W. Armstrong said in a sermon titled “Aversion Therapy” (Oct. 16, 1982). Mr. Armstrong fully understood human nature and how the human mind works. My personal experience in coming in contact with God’s Church proved Mr. Armstrong right.
My wife and I were so thrilled by what we were learning we assumed our closest friends would want to know too. Wrong. Not one of our friends (who seemed to us to be religious) wanted to hear anything about the Bible truths we were learning. A few friends even got angry with us. They did not want to hear about the God we were getting to know. They certainly did not want to learn about what this God had to say. We were shocked and devastated. Yet we weren’t going to give up what God was teaching us. We learned in the Bible that Christ’s message would separate families and friends (Matthew 10:35). Never once did we consider forsaking God because those close to us did not want to hear what we were being taught. We learned that there was a reason people did not want to listen to us.
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day,” Jesus Christ told a group of people who did not understand what He was teaching them (John 6:44; see also verse 65). (It would be good for you to read this entire chapter.) Beginning in verse 35, we find that Christ was teaching the crowds that followed Him the deep spiritual lesson that He was the true bread of life. Why? He knew the crowds were following Him because of the physical food He had provided them miraculously several days before. They were not interested in His message!
Being the Word of God in human flesh, Jesus knew the people needed to follow Him; they needed to feed on and digest His message to obtain eternal life. Yet they could not grasp His teaching. Why? God was not opening their minds to understand. He was not drawing them to Christ with His Holy Spirit. He knew that they would only understand when God was ready for them to understand (verses 64-65). It was not their time according to God’s plan (1 Corinthians 15:23). Does this mean God is unfair? Absolutely not!
God wants all people to understand His Word and His way. However, He has an organized plan of going about it. My wife and I had to accept the fact that God is not allowing the vast majority of people today—including family and friends—to understand Him or His way. As the Bible puts it, God is not calling the vast majority of people today (1 Corinthians 1:26). Yet He was calling us. And we were required to respond accordingly.
No modern professing Christian religion understands this magnificent truth except God’s Church. How well do we understand what Christ reveals in these verses? Mr. Armstrong had a God-given talent for making the truth very plain and shockingly clear. Knowing well the revealed meaning of John 6, he said many times that God and Christ are not trying to save the world—yet! There is a reason. Why is God not calling all men and women today?
To understand, we must know and accept biblical history. What is your view of biblical history? As Mr. Armstrong stated in his 1982 sermon, people—such as the leaders of modern education, religion and science—do not accept Bible knowledge, especially biblical history. Not wanting to appear different or uneducated, the vast majority have followed along like dumb sheep. For example, most people believe the book of Genesis to be myth and allegory. Yet it is far more than a nice bedtime story.
Genesis is chock-full of God-revealed history that mankind cannot obtain anywhere else. It is the only book in the world that can tell you why God is not calling every human being today!
Adam and Eve were real people, the first two human beings. They were specially created beings made for a great purpose. However, they were not the first created beings. Before anything else, including the universe, God first created spirit beings—the angels—as His assistants to help Him complete His plans for the vast creation of the universe. After creating the universe, God put one third of these angels on Earth as a preparation and proving ground to get them ready for greater accomplishment. God intended the angels to add beautifying embellishments to Earth much like a baker puts icing on a cake. Yet the angels needed God’s government and way of life to accomplish their commission.
Lucifer, well trained in God’s government, was given a throne on Earth not only to regulate angelic life and work, but also to assist the angels in building the spiritual character necessary to qualify them to help finish and rule the rest of the universe. However, Lucifer rejected the government of God, embraced a life of sin and led his angels to rebel against God (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-19; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Instead of putting the finishing touches to the Earth, they destroyed it, making it grotesquely useless and incapable of supporting life (Genesis 1:2). This amazing history can only be found in the pages of your Bible. Mr. Armstrong explained the details of the angelic rebellion in chapter 2 of his groundbreaking book, Mystery of the Ages. (You may obtain a copy free upon request.)
Man’s 6,000-Year Sentence
Lucifer’s treacherous rebellion taught God something critically important. Only God beings like Himself could be relied upon to hold firm to the government of God and have the spiritual character necessary to complete the creation of the universe. So He had the Word renew the face of the planet (Psalm 104:30). Then together, God and the Word (John 1:1-4) created Adam and Eve in their own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-28) with the opportunity to replace Lucifer—renamed Satan—on Earth’s throne. (Satan is still on that throne today. See John 12:31 and 2 Corinthians 4:4.) To accomplish their God-given mission Adam and Eve had to believe God, embrace His government, and beautify and embellish the Earth, finishing its creation.
“God gave Adam a choice. He was made mortal and he had to make a choice between the two trees [read Genesis 2:7-17]. One was the tree of revealed spiritual knowledge [the tree of life, verse 9], revealed by God that would result, if he took it and followed it, in eternal life. The other was self-acquired spiritual knowledge—and spiritual attitude [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, verse 17], you might add—that he would acquire by himself … and it would result in death,” continued Mr. Armstrong in his sermon. Verses 16-17 show that God fully explained to Adam the purpose for his creation and how he could attain his incredible human potential.
“And it is just as if God had said to him, ‘Do you want to sit on the throne of the world? Do you want to produce a whole world that will be your own children and then rule over them? Or would you rather go along with Satan who is now ruling, sitting on the throne?’ Adam chose to stay with Satan. He rebelled against God, just as Satan had when he was Lucifer the archangel before him,” Mr. Armstrong explained. Genesis 3 shows how Satan deceived Eve and used her to get Adam to choose to sin. God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden and pronounced a 6,000-year sentence on mankind (verses 22-24).
Mr. Armstrong explained in Mystery of the Ages, “God said in effect: ‘You have made the decision for yourself and the world that shall spring from you. You have rejected me as the basic source of knowledge—you have rejected power from me through my spirit to live the righteous way—you have rebelled against my command and my government—you have chosen the ‘getting,’ ‘taking’ way of Satan. Therefore I sentence you and the world you shall beget to 6,000 years of being cut off from access to me and my Spirit—except for the exceedingly few I shall specially call.” Read that quote again. There is no better explanation why our world is as sick as it is and what God is doing. Mankind wants to live life on its own terms—without God’s help, instruction or law. So God allowed Adam and Eve to go for it! God is letting all men learn through self-inflicted misery that our way does not work!
Enter God’s Firstfruits
“And so God closed up the tree of life. That is, He made it inaccessible to man unless God Himself offered it. Unless God had a reason for choosing someone and giving it to them, no one had access to the tree of life from that time on,” Mr. Armstrong stressed in his sermon. On the surface this may seem quite negative. Actually God is working out an awesome plan demonstrating His supreme intelligence and unmatched power.
Since Adam’s tragic decision, God has called and worked with an exceedingly small number of men and women who dedicated their lives to living God’s way. Some of them are listed in Hebrews 11. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah are some of the most familiar examples of faith. Mr. Armstrong emphasized that God’s chosen were called to “special service preparatory for the Kingdom of God.” These men and women did what Adam failed to do: They rejected, resisted and overcame Satan and his ways, and followed the ways of God’s spiritual law. These saints endured incredible opposition and persecution from Satan’s world (verses 35-38).
Yet through their endurance to the end (Matthew 24:13) of their lives, God was able to build His holy, righteous character in them. These men and women have qualified to rule with Christ in His Kingdom when He returns to replace Satan (Revelation 20:4). In Bible language, these saints are called firstfruits (James 1:18). The term is borrowed from the late spring harvest season of ancient Israel. This season ended annually with a harvest festival known as the feast of firstfruits, or the feast of weeks.
This harvest festival takes place seven weeks from the weekly Sabbath occurring within the Days of Unleavened Bread and is always celebrated on a Sunday (Leviticus 23:10‑21). In the New Testament this festival is called Pentecost, which means count fifty. Pentecost is always 50 days from the aforementioned weekly Sabbath kept during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Spiritually this festival celebrates the work God is doing through His small firstfruits harvest, or Christ’s Church today. It is the firstfruits who are commissioned to spread God’s message into Satan’s world, even though most will not listen.
Not Condemned Or Lost
But what has God planned for all those He does not call before Jesus Christ’s return? Are they condemned to an ever-burning hell? Not at all! Continuing with the sentence for Adam’s world, Mr. Armstrong explained in Mystery of the Ages, “After the world of your descendants has written the lesson in 6,000 years of human suffering and anguish, frustration, defeat and death … I [God] will supernaturally intervene. By supernatural divine power I shall then take over the government of the whole world. With reeducation, I will produce a happy world of peace. And upon repentance, I shall then offer eternal salvation to all.” This is great news.
At Christ’s soon Second Coming, God plans to offer all mankind access to the tree of life. For 1,000 years, all men, women and children will have the opportunity to repent and build the character of God, qualifying them to be born as spirit sons in His Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-34 ; John 3:3-6).
What happens to all those who have died and were not called before Christ’s return? Are they lost forever? The Bible makes it clear that all humans God has not called and who died prior to Christ’s return will come back to physical life in a great resurrection at the end of the 1,000-year reign of Christ and the saints. This resurrection is known as the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-12). Christ will offer them salvation. He will open their understanding to the magnificent truths that had been hidden from them. Just like Adam at the very beginning, they will have their opportunity to choose to follow God’s law and His ways.
Where You Fit
If you are a regular reader of Royal Vision, you are either one of God’s firstfruits or may be one of the few God is calling to be a firstfruit. How do you know if God is calling you? If you understand and agree with what you read in Royal Vision, it is likely that God is calling you. Will you go a step further and do something about it? If God is calling you, He wants you to commit yourself to Him. God has trained ministers available to meet with you to help you know if God is calling you—but you must request a visit. Our ministers will never come knocking at your door.
“God is revealing new knowledge still …. Well I wonder if we can open our ears and our minds to additional light on what we’ve had and go a little further because God is revealing new knowledge all of the time,” Mr. Armstrong admonished the members of God’s Church. The firstfruits and those God is calling have a choice. We can reject or accept what God is willing to reveal to us. A firstfruit, which is a true Christian, must continually grow in the knowledge and grace of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). If God is calling you, He intends the same for you—but you must commit your life to God. If you have read and understand this article, it might be time to take the next step cognizant of what God is doing in this world.