November 18, 2022 Brethren Letter
Tonight, I’m resending a “Personal” article written by Mr. Armstrong in April 1962. His letter focuses on a vitally important subject that we all must take seriously! No matter what we face in our lives, we still want to be thankful and grateful to God for the MANY blessings He abundantly gives us!
Have a wonderful Sabbath, brethren!
Your Brother in Christ,
The Plain Truth
Personal from the Editor
THE other day this question came to my mind: “What is the greatest possible sin anyone could commit?”
Once I attended a church service in which the results of a contest were announced. A new Bible was given as first prize for the best answer to the question: “What is the most COMMON sin, committed by the largest number of people?” First prize was awarded for the answer: “INGRATITUDE.”
Certainly a lack of gratitude is one of the most prevalent, if not the most terrible, of sins. Few have learned to really appreciate what they have. Most are prone to accept the good things by taking them for granted, failing to give thanks. We gripe about our complaints more than we count our blessings.
But now the question came to me: “What is the WORST of all sins?” The most awful sin that can be committed is, perhaps, one of the very LAST that most people would name. Because the governments of men punish murder with capital punishment, many would suppose murder to be the capital sin. But there is a greater.
I knew a man who believed that adultery was the worst of all sins, and dancing the second most evil, because, he claimed, dancing always led to adultery. Asked if he knew this by experience, or if he had any evidence or proof, he was horrified.
“A thousand times NO!” he exclaimed emphatically. “I would never go near a dance floor — it’s too evil!”
The question and answer came to me in a very pleasant and enjoyable manner. I was reading, in the Fenton translation, I Chronicles 29, beginning verse 10. The people of Israel, at King David’s request, had contributed liberally for the building of God’s Temple which was to be erected by Solomon. David, deeply moved by their generosity, was inspired to an emotional expression of gratefulness, combined with a vision of the greatness, the majesty and glory of God. He was publicly expressing his heart-touched gratitude and praise. David was exultant. This is what he was saying, before all the people:
“Blessed be You, the EVER-LIVING — The God of our Father Israel — From Eternity to Eternity! With You LORD, is Greatness, and Power, And beauty, and splendour, and glory! For all the Heavens and the Earth are Yours, LORD! And Headship of all!”
As I read David’s words of gratitude and praise, my mind seemed to catch the resplendent vision of the GREATNESS, the supreme universe-ruling POWER, the awesome BEAUTY, the SPLENDOR, the matchless GLORY of the Almighty GOD! Words are inadequate to describe! We would have to magnify superlatives, and then multiply them!
And we mortals are so insignificant, so feeble, so weak, so vile by comparison. King David continued:
“Therefore, our GOD, We all thank And praise Your Majestic Name, For who am I, and who are my people, That we are able freely to give like this? For all comes from You — ”
Every good thing comes from GOD! He is Creator, Sustainer, Ruler. His eyes are like flames of fire shooting forth. His face is like the sun shining in full strength-so bright it would blind mortal eyes. His Glory is beyond human imagination. His is the perfect holy and righteous character. He IS, and is the very source of, LOVE, WISDOM, GOODNESS, MIGHT and POWER. He sustains and controls and directs every power and force and energy, ruling the vast UNIVERSE!
And yet, He, so great, so mighty, so glorious, is extremely mindful of each one of us! He loves us so very much He GAVE His only begotten Son to pay the penalty in our stead of our folly — our sins. He raised His begotten Son Jesus Christ from the dead, BORN very GOD by His resurrection, and gave to Him all the POWER and the GLORY of the entire universe, making Him, the risen ever-living CHRIST, the Administrator and Chief Executive over the Supreme Government of the limitless UNIVERSE!
More than that, through Jesus Christ, God has made it possible for us to be begotten of the glorious GOD Himself!
Through the living Christ we may receive the very Spirit — the LIFE — the divine NATURE of GOD! Thus we become co-heirs WITH Christ, that we, too, may be BORN by a resurrection as very SONS of GOD. Jesus Christ was made the first-BORN of many brethren! He, Christ, already has INHERITED — and we through Him may become joint heirs to later inherit all that is God’s — the UNIVERSE ENTIRELY!
Can your mind grasp it? ALL THAT IS GOD’S, WE MAY SHARE!
A portion of this we may imbibe, drink in, be filled with and enjoy HERE AND NOW. even in this temporary life! Every good thing COMES FROM GOD!
Even now, in this frail human life, we may receive from Him guidance and wisdom, protection from physical harm, healing when ill, peace of mind, deliverance from trouble, and all the attributes of His character — His divine LOVE, FAITH, PATIENCE, ASSURANCE, GOODNESS, POWER to overcome.
From Him, and from Him alone, we may drink in real happiness and joy! From Him we may receive the knowledge of the TRUE VALUES — We may know the PURPOSE of life — the WAY to every good thing. We may receive every good and perfect gift that comes down from above!
All this we may freely have — according as we YIELD our wills to Him and to His will as He reveals it in His Word — according as we yield to harmonious contact and relationship with Him!
It is a personal, intimate relationship. It is a perfect father-and-son relationship, such as we seldom experience in our carnality with our human fathers. The carnal-minded son may within his nature harbor an innate spirit of antagonism toward his human father. But the very conversion which establishes the father-and-son relationship with the heavenly Father surrenders totally and crushes out that hostile attitude toward God. We come to love and reverence and adore Him.
But now consider what this contact with the living God means. He is the Great GOD — Creator — above all! He governs the universe. His power is supreme over all force and energy. His knowledge is infinite, his wisdom perfect. Not only does He reveal to His begotten sons His great PURPOSE and Plan, and His laws and ways that lead to peace, happiness, prosperity, and joy through His written Word (which only the begotten Spirit-led can understand) — through our worship and prayer-contact He actually intervenes INDIVIDUALLY, on behalf of each one PERSONALLY.
Thus He guides His begotten sons in specific incidents, problems, and experiences. He actually works out circumstances in our behalf. He gives us, when we ask Him, grace and favor in the eyes of those with whom we must deal in the world — causing even our enemies to be at peace with us. He delivers us from trials, temptations and troubles. He heals us when sick. He sets an angel to guard and protect us from physical harm. He prospers those who rely on Him and obey Him.
Every good thing comes from Him. He richly lavishes upon us His grace, blesses us with every spiritual blessing within the heavenly sphere! And the living Christ has promised He will never leave nor forsake us!
Think of all the blessings for here and now! Think of the ABUNDANT LIVING He bestows on His obedient and trusting sons!
Think of the indescribable GLORY and POWER, together with eternal joyful life, we may inherit in the World Tomorrow — for all eternity!
Now what would be the worst, the most terrible sin one could possibly commit? I think it is self-evident. It is to have another god before the true living GOD!
Whatever occupies your interest more than God and His Word is the idol you are putting before Him. None can be truly converted-actually BEGOTTEN of God — until whatever is his IDOL has been smashed, and torn root and branch from his affection and mind and heart.
I had an idol. I didn’t recognize it as such then, of course. My idol was pure vanity — the desire to be regarded by businessmen as important — as highly successful — and with it, of course, to acquire the things money can buy. Now that seemed a normal and right ambition to a carnal young man in the business world. But it was an idol. And I worshipped so energetically, so passionately, and with such zeal and determination and STRONG WILL at the shrine of that idol, that it required some 28 years of enforced economic poverty, 21 years of which I was truly seeking FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, before that idol had been torn COMPLETELY, root and branch, out of my heart. After that God did, indeed, add the material comforts and needs as Christ promised!
Yes, I had my idol — WHAT’S YOURS? What do YOU seek first — pleasures, the television screen, your wife, husband, children? I know of one who put the love of lipstick and make-up first. What is it that YOU just CAN’T GIVE UP? You’ll HAVE to give it up, you know — or YOU ARE COMMITTING THE MOST AWFUL SIN IT IS POSSIBLE TO COMMIT! It is the sin that shuts you off from that personal CONTACT with GOD!
God tells us that His ear is not deaf that He cannot hear our petitions; His arm is not short that it cannot respond — but OUR SINS have separated between Him and us, that He WILL NOT hear!
You have to be willing to FORSAKE ALL, as Peter did, and follow Christ, or remain CUT OFF from God!
Our physical surroundings in this world are sordid, gloomy, dark, and it’s a cold, cold world! Yet we may freely imbibe, drink in, be filled with and ENJOY here and now a share of the matchless BEAUTY, the SPLENDOR, the GLORY, and the HAPPINESS that belongs to and comes from the living GOD!
We may have this in ever-increasing measure. God gives us an “earnest payment” of our potential glorious inheritance HERE AND NOW, in this life! Though this world is unhappy and full of depressing discouragements, we may share Christ’s glory and peace and happiness and beauty WITHIN!
The greatest possible sin is that which shuts you out from the greatest possible acquirement! It is the ULTIMATE!
The most terrible possible PUNISHMENT that could be sentenced and carried out on any human would be to permanently and irrevocably cut one off from all possible access to GOD!
This world IS cut off from God — it has cut itself off!
Yet, NOT irrevocably. You may have FREE ACCESS to the Great God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! The WAY is unconditional surrender of your rebellious will to His — to His WAY — His right and perfect laws. The WAY, then, is by faith in Jesus Christ as personal Saviour.
Man, without God, is utterly helpless and doomed. WITH God, he becomes the recipient of every good and perfect gift from above!