Personal from Herbert W. Armstrong
(April 1983 - Plain Truth)
The more I travel around the earth, the more I see the sickening conditions in the world today, and the more I glean from history, the more convinced I become that the real root cause of all of humanitys troubles and evils may be summed up in six words: "They didnt believe what He said." And they still dont believe what He says today!
Suppose you had suddenly come into consciousness - just now having been suddenly created the first human being. Your Maker is sitting beside you, revealing to you vital knowledge so direly necessary for you.
He tells you that He has made you and the wife He has created beside you so that you can reproduce your kind. In due time you will populate the earth with millions of your offspring.
He reveals to you that He has provided for you a WAY OF LIFE that will CAUSE and produce PEACE between individuals, groups, and nations that shall arise. This way of life is the result of following an inexorable spiritual law as automatic and relentless in continual action as the law of gravity, which He demonstrates to you. It is the basic law of His government by which He rules the vast universe He has created. It is the law of love. It will produce peace, happiness, joy, abundance, universal prosperity, and if you and your children choose it as your way of life, He will give you also the gift of eternal life, which you do not yet possess.
This way of life is symbolized by a tree, called the "tree of life," in the midst of the beautiful garden where He has placed you. But also, in case you decide to reason out your own way of life - taking to yourself the decision and knowledge of what is good and what is evil - then there is a second very special symbolic tree which also produces fruit. That tree is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But your Maker FORBIDS you to take of this tree, which means disobedience to His law, and if you choose to disobey and take of that tree, you shall die, since the penalty of SIN (the transgression of His LAW) is DEATH.
Would you BELIEVE what your Maker said? Would you?
Adam and Eve didnt.
God their Creator had given them His way of life. If they rejected it, turning to their own way. it would bring sorrow, curses, unhappiness, suffering - and death!
But Satan, in the symbolic form of a serpent, came along and said God lied. They would not surely die. They were immortal souls. He reminded them of the superior human minds they had. They could work out their own way of life - and after all, could they believe God? They only had His word for it.
They must have said, "Yes, thats right! After all, how can we be sure? All we have is Gods word for it. Wed better do an experiment, and be sure! Lets put it to the test. Lets take to ourselves the decision - the knowledge of what is good and what is evil."
They made the first scientific experiment. Even today. the scientific method rejects revelation as a source of knowledge and understanding, and utilizes observation. experimentation, and human reason.
Adam and Eve rejected divine revelation as the foundational basis of knowledge, as does modern science today. They didnt believe what their Creator said! And it was "when the woman saw [observation] that the tree [of the forbidden fruit] was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise [human reason], she took of the fruit thereof [she did the experiment], and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Gen. 3:6).
Some 4,000 years later, God sent Jesus Christ, His Son, into the world with a message from heaven. This message was essentially the same as He had instructed the first two humans. It had to do with Gods government and rule over them, of His way of life that would cause every good, and with the gift of eternal life.
But again, humans (with few exceptions - 120 in all) did not believe what He said! They called Him a liar!
Let me quote: "As he [Jesus] spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word [His MESSAGE], then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:30-32).
They answered Him sarcastically and hostilely. They were Abrahams descendants and were already free, they said.
"I know that ye are Abrahams seed," responded Jesus, "but ye seek to kill me, because my word [His gospel message] hath no place in you.
They believed on the messenger - but they rejected His message - they didnt believe what He said!
Jesus continued. "But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth [His gospel message] which I have heard of God."
Later, Jesus said, "And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not... why do ye not believe me?" (Verses 45-46.)
Before the end of the first century that message was suppressed and another false "gospel" substituted (Gal. l:6-7 - A.D. 58). Christs message was not proclaimed to the world again until now - in the latter half of the twentieth century!
But God saw to it that His word - His message to mankind - was inspired and put into His written Word. But even today, the religions that have appropriated Christs name preach about the PERSON of Christ - but they do not proclaim His MESSAGE - HIS true gospel.
And in many basic doctrines they teach the very opposite of what Jesus and the first apostles taught. They condemn the customs Jesus observed, and observe customs Jesus and the Bible condemn.
Today, a professing adherent of "Christianity" will say, in surprise, "Why, you surely dont take the Bible literally, do you?"
Humans have written books by the millions. People read and take them literally. They take them to mean what they say - and say what they mean. But the Bible? They cant seem to believe it can mean what it plainly says.
For example, the Bible says, "The wages of sin is DEATH" (Rom. 6:23). But professing Christians will say, "But death doesnt mean death - it means everlasting life in hellfire!" God in His Word SAYS "death" - but they dont believe what God says.
This same verse says, also, "But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Do they believe eternal life is a gift of God? No, they believe we are "immortal souls" who already have eternal life. But God says in His Word, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek. 18:4). God says that - but professing Christians dont believe what He says! He says the same words again in Ezekiel 18:20.
God said the same thing to Adam and Eve: "...in the day that thou eatest thereof [of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:1 7). And in verse seven God says He "formed man of the dust of the ground. and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man [made of the dust of the ground] became a living soul." God told this "soul" he would "surely die" if he disobeyed by taking the forbidden fruit.
It was Satan who said. "Ye shall NOT surely die." Today those who profess Christ believe what Satan said. But they do not believe what God said!
And what about modern science and higher education? Like our first parents they reject revelation (what God says) as the basic source of knowledge. Do they believe there was a flood in Noahs day? God says there was, but they do not believe what He says! What about higher education? God says the waters of the Red Sea parted and the Israelites walked across on the dry floor of the sea. In His Word, God says the walls of water returned, covering and drowning Pharaoh and his army. But can you find that in the ancient history texts? They dont believe what God said!
God shows us the way to world peace - peace between individuals, between groups, between nations. But men do not believe what God says, and so we have no peace.
God shows us the way to peace, happiness, prosperity in abundance and eternal life as His gift. But men, except for the very few, dont believe what God says! Instead, humanity suffers on!