Thursday, November 24, 2022

Give Thanks for Herbert W. Armstrong

Today in the United States is Thanksgiving, a national holiday for giving thanks to God.  At this time of year, many in God's Church keep Thanksgiving and spend extra time thinking about God's blessing and giving God thanks in prayer.

Among many things we give God thanks for, I think it is appropriate that we give thanks for Herbert W. Armstrong and the great body of truth God has revealed to us through him.

We are very blessed in that regard.  Not only do we have the truth and traditions God gave us through Mr. Armstrong, but we have a great body of literature from him and from the Church under his leadership available on the Internet, which we can continuously review for encouragement and for a reminder of the things we believe in common because of him.

Some of the key pieces of literature of Mr. Armstrong that are my favorites are, The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy, The Incredible Human Potential, Mystery of the Ages, and The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong.  Right now, I am part way through reading The Incredible Human Potential, which I have read many times.

I am thankful that God gave us Mr. Armstrong as a powerful man of God to lead the Philadelphia era of the Church and to teach us many truths.  Mr. Armstrong was not perfect.  He made mistakes, and he corrected many of his own mistakes, and he would still correct his mistakes if he were alive today.  But the vast majority of his teachings were right on target, and very important.  The way God prepared Mr. Armstrong for this service was amazing.  Mrs. Armstrong was an important partner and helpmate to Mr. Armstrong in this work.

Mr. Armstrong set a wonderful example for us in practicing what he preached and putting God first, and so did Loma Armstrong.  When you read his autobiography, you will see that he always put God first in believing and obeying God more than man.  

Loma did this first.  She learned about the Sabbath from a Church of God member, and she was convinced, not by what people said, but by what God said in His Word, the Bible.  Though she was a religious person, she was immediately willing to give up her traditions and what she had been taught by various ministers all her life in order to believe God directly - to believe what she saw in the Bible.

Mr. Armstrong at first resisted, but after a lot of research he too made the choice to believe God more than man.  No doubt, God inspired both him and Mrs. Armstrong to make these right choices.  I believe God inspired them by His Holy Spirit which was with them but not yet in them, and this was part of the way God called them.  We should give thanks to God that He did so.

I think that individual members reading Mr. Armstrong's literature on a regular basis can help bring and maintain unity in the Church, since we are reviewing the things we hold in common.

When you read the autobiography, you will notice that Mr. Armstrong went to God's Word, the Bible, rather than man, for truth.  He did not let any man interpret the Bible for him.  He let the Bible interpret the Bible, as he taught us.  Did he make mistakes in understanding the Bible?  Yes, but as I said, he was willing always to correct his mistakes when he found them.  Did he refer to and use the writings of men in his research?  Yes, but as a source of ideas and reference, not as final authority.  He had an open mind.  He learned from others.  But for final proof, he went to the Bible.

That is why he was able to say to the public, don't believe me, don't believe any man, believe God, believe the Bible.  He could say this without hypocrisy because that is exactly how he personally lived.  That is a beautiful thing.  And God was able to use him to do a great work.

People, coming into the Church of God as it was growing, had to believe the Bible more than their churches, their traditions, their ministers, and even their own opinions.  And God required that the person who challenged them to do this do the same.  Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong qualified.

It is noteworthy that this is not something Mr. Armstrong did only when he was an ordained minister or when he became an apostle or became aware that he was an apostle.  He did this always.  He always put the Bible first over the teaching of ministers or over tradition.  He was that way when he was being called, before baptism, a "prospective member" as we say.  He was that way as a newly baptized lay member.  He continued this way after he was ordained.

For that we can be grateful, for it is because of this that God was able to do a great work through him, and it was because of this great work that many of us, or our parents or grandparents, were called into God's truth.

Let us give God thanks for Mr. Armstrong (and Loma too) and let us appreciate the body of literature God has provided for us from Mr. Armstrong's time.