A Frank Answer to a
Reader's Sincere Question
What was the basis of your call from God?
By Herbert W. Armstrong
Personal from the Editor
Plain Truth Magazine
From Seattle, Washington, comes this question from a reader of The Good
News, after reading my "Personal" on "What we should learn from the
spectacular Israeli strike to free scores of hostages from skyjack
terrorism. The amazing parallel!"
His question: "Dear Mr. Armstrong, I read with interest your article in
the December Good News. I am enclosing part of it with underlinings
that I would like more information on.
"I would appreciate receiving a short and concise statement of the basis of your call from God.
Did He visit you personally? How was this Bible commission announced to
shake someone like me to be able to know that you are the 'APPOINTED'?
Will there be any need for a successor to you? And how is it provided?
"I enjoy your magazine. Best to you."
The letter was not anonymous, else I would not give it an answer.
But I feel many readers might be interested in the answer. God did
appear personally to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Christ
did appear personally in calling His twelve apostles. There is every
reason to believe that He appeared in person to the apostle Paul, in
calling and instructing him.
I have often compared my call and teaching from Christ to Paul's account in Galatians 1:10-17.
First, he gave one of the evidences of the authenticity of his apostleship in verse 10:
"For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if
I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
Then comes his teaching and commission: "But
I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is
not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught
it, but by the revelation of .Jesus Christ.... But when it pleased God,
who ... called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might
preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh
and blood [humans]: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were
apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto
There is every reason to believe that Jesus Christ appeared in person
to Paul in Arabia, and for some three years taught him just as He
previously had taught the original twelve for some three years.
Jesus Christ is the personal living Word of God. The Bible is the
written Word of God. The Bible was not in print in Paul's day. Paul,
when called, did not go to men, or those recognized by men as God's
teachers, but he was taught directly by Christ the personal Word of
God. In like manner, when God called me, by circumstances I believe He
maneuvered, in the autumn of 1927— after preparing me in many
ways while I was unconverted and traveling the wrong road of life (see
volume I of my autobiography)—I did not go to any school of
religion, to any denominational teachers, or to any humanly taught
theological seminary. I went directly to the living CHRIST for teaching THROUGH HIS WRITTEN WORD!
was immediately shocked to see with my own eyes that in Protestant
Sunday school, from a child, I had been taught precisely the OPPOSITE
of what God PLAINLY SAYS in His written WORD!
How do I know HE guided me? Two reasons:
- My eyes saw exactly the SAME WORDS my human teachers of Sunday-school days had seen—the
difference being that they "believed" in the BIBLE-but did NOT believe
WHAT IT SAID—and I did believe WHAT IT PLAINLY SAID.
- I had been brought to a full and complete REPENTANCE and UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER TO GOD,
according to WHAT HE SAID (which I believed). I had given my life
without any reservations to HIM. I had forsaken THIS WORLD, the
glamorous future it appeared to promise me—everything—to
believe and follow HIM, AND HAD ACCORDING TO HIS PROMISE RECEIVED HIS
HOLY SPIRIT TO OPEN MY MIND TO HlS SPIRITUAL TRUTH! I knew it was TRUE, because it made sense and nothing else did!
Little by little, in almost day-and-night study of His WORD, much of it
on my knees, God opened more and more TRUTH to my understanding. Always
I had craved UNDERSTANDING. And God was giving it to me.
After the first six months of this intensive biblical study, God
brought me to this complete surrender, and gave me the gift of His
Spirit in the spring of 1927.1 feel He gave me also the special gift of
I DID NOT CHOOSE THE MINISTRY as a life vocation. I had long before chosen advertising and journalism as a life profession.
My first employer, when I was 16 and in a job away from home, filled me
with a vigorous, energetic AMBITION—a burning DESIRE to become
successful—plus the willingness to pay the price in STUDY, HARD
WORK, PERSEVERANCE and DRIVE. I had not yet chosen my life goal, but by
18 I had. And I WORKED at it. I worked hard by day, studied hard by
night. I put myself where I would be in constant contact with so-called
big and successful men. My dealings were with presidents and board
chairmen of America's great industrial, banking and commercial
corporations. I was filled with AMBITION, SELF-CONFIDENCE, DESIRE TO
DRIVE MYSELF TO THE TOP.
Are not these all GOOD qualities? Yes?
No! Satan has deceived this world into thinking they are. But they are
all based on Satan's "GET" principle of life. In my conversion I
learned that God's principle of life is the OPPOSITE—GIVE instead
of GET—LOVE instead of competition, strife, resentment,
Conversion meant getting RID of egotistic SELF-confidence, and
replacing it with the confidence that is FAITH—confidence in
CHRIST. No longer were things to be accomplished through my own vaunted
and vain SELF-power, but through the POWER OF THE LIVING CHRIST!
It meant complete reliance on HIM.
I had to get rid of VANITY and a feeling of superiority to other
humans, and replace vanity with humility, exalting CHRIST instead of
myself. I could be His INSTRUMENT, if I placed myself fully in His
hands in faith and obedience—but when anything was accomplished,
it was HE, not I, who did it. At first, as is human, I went
overboard—to the opposite extreme—and took MEEKNESS to mean
WEAKNESS. I let others run all over me. Finally, however, Christ guided
me into achieving BALANCE.
No, Christ didn't visit me IN PERSON, but He did IN SPIRIT.
I did not WANT to be a minister. I wanted to be an advertising man. But
I did become so wrapped up in the THRILLING and EXCITING discovery of
new gold nuggets of TRUTH that, as a writer, I began to write articles
about the wonders of TRUTH being revealed to me. A few people I knew
personally began urging me to speak out publicly. I resisted for a few
years. Finally God opened my eyes to a truth I knew a certain humble
group of BELIEVERS in a rural area had never seen nor discovered, and
God gave me such an urge to SHARE this knowledge with them that I
agreed to talk before them. My wife said she would hardly have called
that first preaching a sermon. But the hearers were
enthralled—excited—and wanted me to come and preach again.
In preaching, I did not choose God, HE CHOSE ME—just
as He chose His original apostles. The Church of God had existed since
Christ founded it in A.D. 31. But by A.D 70 Christ's gospel—which
was announcing the KINGDOM OF GOD-had been SUPPRESSED and replaced with
ANOTHER GOSPEL. The true Church of God was forced to go underground as
a great false church rose to power. Thousands—millions—were
tortured, martyred. The true gospel was no longer preached to THE
WORLD—but secretly to the very few, UNDERGROUND.
Christ's GOSPEL was the announcement of the coming KINGDOM OF
GOD—including the restoration of THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD to govern
all the earth. By the time God committed to me His great commission, we
had reached the beginning of the END TIME-the END of THIS AGE—and
had reached the generation in which THE KINGDOM OF GOD was to be
established to rule ALL NATIONS and usher in WORLD PEACE.
My first broadcast was in October 1933. on a small 100-watt radio
station. It proclaimed TRUTH listeners had never heard before. It was
the TRUE GOSPEL. Listeners were SURPRISED—shocked. Yet they saw
with their own eyes in their own Bibles what I proclaimed. Letters
rolled in. The radio station manager was surprised at the mail
response. He invited me to put together a regular radio program.
The first issue of The Plain Truth appeared February 1, 1934. The
regular broadcast, then weekly, started the first Sunday in 1934.
Actually, God committed to me the GREAT COMMISSION—to carry His
true gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD to ALL THE WORLD—after much
trial and test and proving.
No, Christ did not visit me in person. He has not been doing it that way since He visited the apostle Paul in Arabia.
Then HOW DO I KNOW?
How may YOU know?
Christ Himself gave one answer: "BY THEIR FRUITS YOU SHALL KNOW."
The disciples of John, after he was in prison, came to Jesus to ask a
similar question: "How may we KNOW you are God's ANOINTED ONE—the
Jesus answered, "Go tell John what you see being DONE-being
ACCOMPLISHED." So I say: LOOK INTO YOUR OWN BIBLE. You will find where
Christ Himself said what would be DONE in THE GREAT COMMISSION in our
time: "And this GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM shall be preached in all the
world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the END [of this
age] come" (Matt. 24:14). That's what it says!
But although millions claim they believe in the Bible, FEW believe WHAT IT SAYS.