Imagine sitting in Armstrong Auditorium for two events.
First, you are sitting there during Sabbath services, as it is the house of worship for the Philadelphia Church of God’s headquarters congregation. While sitting there, you might hear phrases like, “The whole world is deceived,” or “Humanity is cut off from God,” or “God is only working with a small handful right now, before He opens up salvation to the world later, after Christ’s Second Coming.”
Second, you are sitting there a few evenings later, watching a world-class ensemble perform amazing acts of artistry on their instruments. These performers are not members of the pcg and perhaps aren’t even self-professed Christians. Yet they are performing on the same stage and being promoted by the same organization. You read in the program that the series is promoting “the best of the human spirit.”
How can these two concepts harmonize? In services, you’ll hear that man is nothing apart from God, but then people who admittedly have no relationship with God are accomplishing astounding things. These are actually two complementary facets of the same gospel message.
Art is one of the aspects of humanity that showcases something great about God—the fact that He created in human beings mind power.
The Bible calls this the “spirit of man” (Zechariah 12:1) or the “spirit in man” (Job 32:8). Herbert W. Armstrong explained this in detail in his inspiring book The Incredible Human Potential. He also called this “spirit in man” the “human spirit.”
Of course, other people have used the term “human spirit,” but Mr. Armstrong was referring specifically to this spiritual component of human existence. This gives man the ability to learn, think, reason, appreciate, evaluate—a unique ability among all living things on this planet. The Apostle Paul said that man wouldn’t be able to know about any of those things without this human spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11). A chicken cannot understand what two plus two is because that creature does not have the spirit in man.
Just as we should appreciate the Creator when we see great things in creation (a majestic mountain or a stunning sunset), those who understand God’s plan should also better appreciate the Almighty God through the wonders of the human spirit.
Even in a world currently cut off from its Creator, think of the countless number of athletic feats, breathtaking paintings, technological advancements or finger-blurring piano performances that human beings are able to achieve. That is due to a spiritual component in man. If you are reading this article and understanding it, that is a resource dwelling in you as well.
As God’s Church teaches, we should be developing our minds. Just as the Bible doesn’t contain all knowledge, neither should we only be skilled in biblical truth. Yes, we are to “seek first” God’s Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), but we must also be able to earn a living (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We must practice harnessing and utilizing this mind power!
In The Missing Dimension in Sex, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “God intended for man to produce additional knowledge. He gave us the basis—the foundation—the premise—the concept. But He also provided us with eyes with which to observe. With hands and feet to explore and measure. With means to produce laboratories, test tubes, means of experimentation. He gave us awesome minds with which to think.”
The Bible champions the best of the human spirit. To pen the Bible, God didn’t just take over the mind of a man and write the words through the man. Each Bible author has a noticeably unique writing style. God used these brilliant, educated minds to record His words often in poetic, even
musical, fashion. Moses, for one, was noted for having a strong education in secular knowledge before God began to educate him in spiritual matters (Acts 7:20-22). Isaiah said God gave him the tongue and ear of the learned (Isaiah 50:4). Daniel was known to the invading Babylonians as
being “skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science,” and even possessing the mental capacity to learn a new language (Daniel 1:1-4).
Yes, God condemns vain scholarship. But He also condemns ignorance. “Actually, surprising though it may be to some, the Bible teaching upholds prosperity, culture, education and acquisition of right knowledge,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in the June-July 1974 Plain Truth. “The Bible reveals human nature as being lazy, slovenly, yet full of vanity and greed.”
We must therefore push ourselves to be educated and to develop our skills and aptitudes.
Now, all those accomplishments of the human spirit are limited to the material world—what can be perceived by our five physical senses. When it comes to issues that are of a spiritual nature (unperceived by the five senses), man needs another spirit.
Just as a chicken cannot calculate two plus two, neither can a mind with only the human spirit
understand the “things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). This, as Mr. Armstrong taught, explains why God gave man such mental capacity. It was so the spirit in man could join with the Spirit of God—thus making possible a relationship with God and accomplishments on a level never before imaginable.
In terms of our ultimate potential and reason for being, we are nothing without God’s Spirit dwelling in us—meaning, we would accomplish nothing beyond this life. Sure, we can accomplish amazing things in this existence with the materials given to us, but God intends for us to go so much further. And none of man’s artistic and technological achievements are solving the most basic issues threatening human survival. Romans 1:28 says that if we don’t retain God in our knowledge, our minds become “reprobate,” or worthless.
This indwelling of the Holy Spirit accompanies the baptismal covenant one enters when fully mature to make such a commitment. As a youth who can understand these concepts, the Holy Spirit is working with your mind and leading you to this point. In the meantime, young people should be developing their minds—their human spirits!
The Holy Spirit entering the brain of a dumb animal would not create the kind of relationship God wants to form with you. It is because you have mind power that this is even possible. The Holy Spirit will not do all our thinking for us. It doesn’t make us an expert at everything. It is the relationship of these two “minds” that create a unique being of the God-kind! God wants us to be able to “reason”
with Him (Isaiah 1:18). Imagine, too, how much greater those human-spirit achievements would be with the presence of God’s Holy Spirit!
As God’s Church teaches, mankind apart from God is nothing—in terms of his reason for being and his eternal future. But also—as championed in the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation’s performing arts series—look at what mankind can do with the capacities God already created within him. These things glorify God and should ultimately point us to having a relationship with our Creator.
This is the gospel message we preach—both in Sabbath services and in our concert series. It proclaims the incredible plan of God!