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Mystery of the Ages
(a 2nd critical review)

By William Hohmann

 

Chapter Three - The Mystery of Man

They take the human brain apart and study it, yet the human mind remains a total mystery to even the most advanced psychologists. They do not know WHAT man is or WHY he came to be! That is the great Mystery Number 3 that has never been understood by humanity. (p. 96)

Quite a claim HWA makes here; that the human mind is a "total" mystery to them, even the most advanced psychologists.

Does even the most ardent supporter of HWA agree with him here? The human mind is totally and completely unknown to even psychologists? It is another attempt by HWA to discredit men of learning and intellect in favor of himself; a failed advertising man who didn't even finish high school. If the claim were not so ludicrous, we might find ourselves getting ill on this flight of fancy we are being taken on that is getting pretty bumpy.

Again, HWA makes the case for everyone being ignorant, including today's churches. Not any of these purveyors of higher education know why man is or what man is. In other words, he is blaming the wrong people. These are not academic questions but rather philosophical ones. Churches have answers for what and why man, but HWA is not interested here whether they agree or disagree with him. He is now only interested in discrediting them as a source of knowledge so that the reader accepts him as the source of this "true" knowledge; this modern day Gnosticism.

Jesus Christ thanked God that the real truths are hidden from the wise and prudent and revealed to those who are babes in materialistic knowledge. (p. 98)

Just those who are babes when it comes to materialistic knowledge? What of those "wise and prudent" who teach religion? Was Jesus beset by the average man or those who were doctors of the Law—the religious leaders and teachers?

The wise and prudent are those who have ego problems when it comes to the gospel. They cannot fathom that it is only a matter of faith in Jesus as the Christ that results in one's salvation. These wise and prudent are convinced there is more to it; that there has to be some requirements for them to comply with, some hoops to jump through in order to "prove" their dedication and obedience. The ego demands there be some performance on the part of the individual so that there is something to boast about: "Look what I have done." In the case of HWA and those who would follow him, it was a matter of obedience to the Law; the "government" of God, with an emphasis on keeping and observing the seventh day Sabbath. (Read my critique of Herbert Armstrong's book, Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?)

On page 103, HWA makes the claim that, once mankind has been transformed into spirit beings (born into the divine family of God) man will then finish what the fallen angels were supposed to do in the first place.

...restoring the government of God to the earth, and then participating in the completion of the CREATION over the entire endless expanse of the UNIVERSE!

The context of Scripture for that time when there are no more flesh and blood people would have us believe that there is to be a new heavens and a new earth, with the old being done away with by God, not spirit beings.

Revelation 21:1: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."

Hebrews 1:10-12: "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail."

Isaiah 65:17: "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind."

Isaiah 66:22: "...the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make..." On page 104, HWA claims that one of the proofs as to the true Church of God is the understanding (belief) that man is a mortal soul, and does not have an immortal soul.

Therefore the SOUL is physical, composed of matter, and can die. This is a TRUTH believed by very few denominations, and probably by no other religions—another PROOF that identifies the one true Church of God!

Is this truly a proof? Did Jesus declare that we would know who true Christians were based upon their doctrines and beliefs1, or that they would demonstrate that they have love for one another?

John 13:35: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

I John 4:7-8: "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

Wouldn't arguments over doctrinal beliefs only serve to "prove" that those who were so hung up on doctrines were in actuality demonstrating a lack of love for others?

Now we come to another truth, so far as I know, exclusive to the one true Church. (p.104)

What then, is the function of this 'human' spirit? It is NOT a 'soul.' But, 1) it imparts the power of intellect— of thinking, and of MIND power, to the human brain; and 2) it is the very means God has instilled, making possible a personal relationship between human MAN and divine God. (p. 105)

Again we see an attempt to prove which church is the "one true church" not being a matter of having true love for one another, but based upon understanding what the spirit of man is and what it does or allows. In other words, the "one true church" is known by means of this modern day Gnosticism.

HWA, speaking of philosophers and humanists, claims:

They are smugly ignorant and unaware of the TRUE VALUES and the incredible but real human potential.
Human life is at once of infinitesimally less value than they suppose, and at the same time of supremely greater potential than they know. (p. 105)

And because people were viewed by HWA as being of little worth, he treated them that way as a result. But what did Jesus Christ and Scripture have to say about the worth of those who belong to Christ?

Matthew 10:29-31: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."

Psalm 139:17: "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee."

God's children have value. They are, after all, the workmanship of God's hands.

Ephesians 2:10: "For we are his workmanship,..."

Because HWA perceived people as near worthless as human beings, it did not bother him to place heavy burdens on them that were impossible to bear.

What is the real truth concerning human worth? What is the real value of a human life? It is grossly overestimated in its own reality... (p. 106)
The Creator reveals and instructs in a highly coded book, the Holy Bible. Its profound message is opened to human understanding through the presence and in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit injected2 into the human mind that has surrendered and yielded completely to the revelation in belief and obedience. To such a one the TRUTH is made plain— wonderful beyond description. (p. 107)

If the reader is convinced the Bible is "a highly coded book" then plain and simple statements in it can easily be overlooked by the one seeking to decode this "mysterious book" that does not reveal knowledge and understanding in a strait forward manner. Is it truly one who has yielded completely to the revelation in belief and obedience? Is this "revelation" those things HWA now claims to reveal, which he insists must be believed and obeyed?

If we compare what HWA claims here to what Scripture "plainly" reveals, there is a conflict. Over and over in Scripture it states that it is belief; faith in Jesus as the Christ—the Messiah, the Savior of mankind that results in one receiving the Holy Spirit and attaining salvation3, and not "obedience" to a law; a covenant given to a particular people, devoid of the Holy Spirit. If the reader of this critique insists on siding with HWA on this issue, then I offer a simple exercise; a simple "decoding" of this book. Look up examples of the gospel being preached to people and those people receiving the Holy Spirit as a result. See if there is any reference in any of these Scriptures demanding obedience to the Law. It isn't there. It is, however, an example of trying to chop up Scripture and put it back together again like some jigsaw puzzle designed by Picasso.

The Creator's book reveals, contrary to fallible humanist teaching, that man was made from the dust of the ground, and this dust thus becomes soul, mortal—like all vertebrates. Man has continued to accept the first lie in human history—Satan's lie to mother Eve that man is immortal and cannot die. (p. 108)

First off, what do humanists believe in regards to where man came from? Do they believe we are something other than from the dust of the earth? Were we brought here by little green men on spaceships? HWA is simply using every possible occasion to discredit all other sources of knowledge again.

Secondly, did Satan really tell Eve she was immortal? Or was it a case of saying that she would not die as a result of eating the fruit? Or was this lie a combination of truth and error? Were their eyes open to know good and evil like God?

It would appear that HWA would have us believe the only reason Eve ate the fruit is because she was told she would not die; that she was immortal. The narrative refutes this conclusion.

Continuing on page 108, HWA makes the case that animal brain is supplied with instinct, and not intellect. It may well be a minor point, but animals, such as apes and chimpanzees have demonstrated intellect. It may be that the difference between mankind and animals is not as great as we might like.

Through pages 109 and 110, HWA presents his version of the completion of man being when man receives the spirit of God, yet this completeness is actually not totally consummated until such time the individual becomes a spirit being; a member of the God family. He then interjects the statement that abortion is murder because it destroys one that otherwise would have the potential to become a member of the God family. The implication is clear. A Christian, even though in possession of the Holy Spirit, has the potential to abort; to lose out on salvation. Three guesses how this could happen within HWA's theology, and the first two guesses don't count.

Missing in his description of becoming complete with the Holy Spirit is how and why this happens. Nothing is mentioned concerning Jesus Christ and faith in Him.

Spirit beings, once a finished creation (as were the one third of the angels who became evil characters), could not be changed! Spirit, once its creation is completed, is constant and eternal— not subject to change. But physical matter is constantly changing. (p. 114)

HWA resorts to Orwellian doublespeak again. We are led to believe that, once these fallen angels had rebelled, their "creation" was now complete, and they were eternally set now as evil characters. This would mean that the angels that did not rebel are yet not complete in their creation!

What is at play here? HWA wishes to establish that God is constant and does not change, hence "His" laws do not change. The reader is being set up to accept that the laws given to Israel through Moses and covenant are binding on all mankind for all time. The logic is sophistic at best, but effective with those who have not carefully studied the subject and how the apostle Paul treats the Law.

His Maker talked first to Adam and Eve—instructed them in the GOVERNMENT and spiritual LAW of God—though in Genesis 2 only the most condensed summary of God's instruction to them is revealed. (pp. 114-5)

The reader needs to see what is really being written here. HWA claims Adam and Eve were instructed in God's government and spiritual law, yet the context does not really support this conclusion. A red flag should be going up in the mind of the reader, but often does not in regards to those ensconced in the teachings of HWA. For those, this "discrepancy" does not even raise an eyebrow.

On page 116, HWA asks the question, what would have happened if Adam had taken of the tree of life, and answers his own question on the following page, claiming he would have received the Holy Spirit.

The reasoning and logic here is infantile. If Adam had known about a tree of life being in the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, surely he would have partaken of that first tree at his earliest convenience. There is so much more to the narrative than HWA wishes to admit to. By partaking of that second tree, he was denied access to the first tree; the tree of life, which would have given eternal life.

Yet Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and, as a result, God said: "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil:" So now man was like God in this respect, but unlike God, was put out of the garden and not allowed to partake of the tree of life lest he exist forever in his sinful state. There is more to the story than is revealed here and at that time. A process is at work here, beyond the comprehension of HWA. Adam had no choice. He could not have partaken of that first tree whether literally or figuratively.

HWA then goes on to claim that Adam, and by extension all mankind, has been cut off from God and is now mentally perverted, having opened up his mind to the deceptions of Satan. When this claim is examined in relation to what God said after Adam and Eve ate that fruit, we would be forced to conclude that knowing good from evil is a perversion.

HWA was always claiming that there really was no contest between God and Satan (as is depicted in mainstream Christianity), yet here we see him playing on the other side of the fence. There is a conflict and Satan just won this battle. Yet Satan was doing exactly what God knew he would do.

HWA then concludes that mankind has ever since been kidnapped and held captive by Satan. If anything though, mankind has been the captive of sin, and not Satan.

God would have revealed to Adam God's way of life—which is God's spiritual law. That law is the way of outflowing love—but it would have been "the love of God... shed abroad in [human] hearts by the Holy [Spirit]" (Rom. 5:5). Human natural carnal love cannot fulfill God's holy law. (p. 118)

Poor Adam. If God only would have let him go ahead and eat of the fruit of the tree of life. God could have revealed to Adam His "spiritual law." But this isn't possible without the Holy Spirit being in a man, so HWA claims. Yet earlier he said God instructed him in His perfect law and government back on pages 114 and 115! But then he adds the caveat, "Human natural carnal love cannot fulfill God's holy law." The implication here is that, with God's Holy Spirit in you, you can keep this holy law. So a logical question follows. Those who claim to now have God's Holy Spirit within them are now enabled to keep this law perfectly, right? No? Not perfectly? Christians still sin? How can this be, seeing as the Holy Spirit is supposed to enable one to keep this law? Maybe... just maybe, there is something drastically wrong with this whole line of reasoning in the first place. Maybe the declarations of the apostle Paul stating Christians are not under the Law, and dead to sin and the Law has some validity after all.

But the law of God requires action and performance, and LOVE is the fulfilling of God's law (Rom. 13:10), and it can be fulfilled only by the love of and from God (Rom. 5:5)." (p. 118)

HWA cites this but did not completely comprehend it. To him, keeping the Law fulfilled the Law when it came to the works of the Law. He taught that this love from God was the means to keeping the Law, and was not fulfilled by love itself. It was the means to that end, and not the end in itself.

HWA now gets back to the real theme of his book: God's law and government, under the subheading "Rejecting God's Law and Government" on page 119.

But instead Adam chose a different kind of knowledge—he took to HIMSELF the knowledge of good as well as evil. He relied wholly on himself—both for the KNOWLEDGE as well as power of performance of good as well as evil. He REJECTED reliance on God and chose the course of SELF-reliance. The only righteousness he could acquire was SELF-righteousness, which to God is like filthy rags. (p. 119)

HWA's conclusions here ignore what was already covered, relating that this knowledge made Adam and Eve like God in that respect.

As far as self-righteousness is concerned, keeping the Law is a form of self-righteousness, as it is a matter of a person trying to achieve righteousness through their own efforts, and not by God through faith.

Philippians 3:9: "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:"

This comment regarding filthy rags is like what Paul said in regards to the righteousness found in keeping the Law:

Philippians 3:6-7: "Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ."

The first man Adam had been given the opportunity to choose God's government, to restore that government to the earth, and to unseat Satan from the throne of the earth. Since he failed, salvation cannot be opened to humanity generally, until Jesus Christ, the second Adam, has accomplished what the first Adam failed to do—namely, to unseat Satan and to sit on the throne of the earth, restoring the government of God to this earth. (p. 123)

HWA has been building on this theme without giving much scriptural support for it. Adam was not told to restore any government on earth. He was not informed he was to unseat Satan. It is not a matter of Adam's sin that salvation could not be opened to humanity, generally or otherwise. Jesus' accomplishment was not a matter of unseating Satan. It was a matter of living a sinless life in order to be the sacrifice for mankind so that man could be saved through Him. Once man had the knowledge of good and evil, it was important to demonstrate to mankind that it was utterly impossible for mankind to live up to the standard of God. Only God could accomplish it. Yet mankind keeps trying to achieve this standard of God by his own efforts. Now HWA tries to do the same by claiming it is with the Holy Spirit one is enabled to keep this law.

The closing of the tree of life from the human family marked the foundation of the present world still ruled invisibly by Satan. How, then, was God going to accomplish his purpose? At that very foundation of this world it was determined by God that the Word would be born on earth as the sacrificial lamb of God to redeem mankind from the rule of Satan the kidnapper (Rev.13:8) (p. 123)

God had this all planned out prior to the creation of the world, not afterward, such as a result of the sin of Adam:

2 Timothy 1:9: "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,"

Titus 1:2: "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began";

HWA asks the question revolving around what if Adam had chosen the tree of life instead, then went on to paint that scenario. That option was never really available to Adam and Eve. It was essential to the overall development of man that he be tested with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and it was not about law or government. It was about learning. Some refuse to learn the lessons of Scripture, basing their understanding on assumptions.

On page 124 HWA addresses what he considers to be part of the mystery of man: he does not have an immortal soul. This "mystery" really doesn't change the final outcome of things. Either one accepts Jesus as Savior or one does not. Those that do are saved; those who do not are condemned. (John 3:18)

HWA resorts to semantics to make his point, saying the penalty for sin is death, not considering what all that entails. Do all die? Yes. Did Jesus pay the penalty for sin? Yes. It isn't a matter of who dies or whether we die. What matters is who makes us alive for eternity in the kingdom of God, for flesh and blood cannot inherit it. Do all spirit beings inherit it? No, else the fallen angels would be in the kingdom also.

If you want to take this argument of semantics out to its logical conclusion, Jesus said: "whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"4 (John 11:26) Did HWA die?

In HWA's diatribe against mainstream Christianity, he uses the terminology, "...you profess to 'accept Christ'," as one of the main tenants of Christianity he rejects. But it isn't a matter "accepting" Christ; it is a matter of believing Him.5 Where HWA and Scripture diverge is that Scripture claims it is faith in Jesus that results in salvation. HWA claims it is a matter of government and law. In this mix, you end up with the declaration it is Jesus who is the Savior, but that He saves via the Law. This goes contrary to the "plain truth" of Scripture that salvation is dependent upon faith only in Jesus as the Christ and not Jesus and the Law, or any other thing set up in men's minds as a saving force.

The most universal false teaching, believed by virtually all churches called Christianity, except the one and only true and original Church of God, is that ALL are automatically "lost" unless they profess Jesus Christ as Savior—and that now is the only day of "salvation."
But the truth is that those cut off from God are NOT YET JUDGED! (p. 127)

Romans 10:9-10: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

This covers the first claim of HWA above. Regarding the claim of mainstream being now is the only day of salvation, if you read this book carefully, HWA claims salvation comes after Jesus returns to rule the earth, with only a few exceptions. The claim that those cut off from God are not jet judged was covered earlier, but bears repeating.

John 3:18: "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

This flies in the face of what HWA claimed so emphatically above.

Man does not realize that only a real repentance—turning from sin—and the living FAITH of Jesus Christ can FREE him from that penalty! Sin enslaves! It punishes!... (p. 130)

Repentance comes about as a result of turning to and believing in Jesus Christ—believing He is the Savior of mankind, and being in receipt of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 11:18: "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."

Without offering any proof, HWA claims repentance is a matter of no longer committing sin, sin being defined as transgressing the Law. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus points out that the Law didn't really cut it when it came to defining what was truly sin for a man. But HWA only concluded that at that time, Jesus was "adding" the spirit of the law to the letter of the Law, ignoring those points of Law that Jesus totally negated.

The narrative in Acts 10 concerning Cornelius shows him receiving the Holy Spirit because of what he heard and believed. The Holy Spirit is the seal of God's acceptance of a person, and that person who has the Holy Spirit has passed from death to life (1 John 3:14). Repentance was granted to him; not something he worked up on his own. Repentance is turning "to" God, and not turning "from" sin to the letter of the Law whose purpose was to make sin "exceedingly sinful" for sin existed before the Law. (See: Romans 7:13; Romans 5:13)

HWA insisted repentance was turning from sin; turning from breaking the Law to keeping the Law. This subtle redefining of repentance negates faith. You will not find one example in Scripture where repentance is in the context of sin; turning away from sin. Repentance is turning to God. Israel was constantly being warned by the prophets to return to God, and Jesus reiterated this message; "the time is at hand... repent (turn to God) and believe the gospel." (Mk. 1:15). When the Christian Jews in Acts chapter 11 heard that God had given His Holy Spirit to Gentiles they concluded: When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18) Gentiles were now able to turn to God, which they were unable to do previously unless they underwent circumcision and were then brought under the Law. Now they could turn to God through faith.

He [Satan] caused a violent controversy to flare up in the early months and years of the Church disputing whether the gospel to be proclaimed was the gospel OF Christ, or man's gospel ABOUT Christ. Satan caused the latter to win out, and in less than 20 years a false and counterfeit gospel ABOUT Christ was being proclaimed by all but the persecuted FEW who loyally remained as the small and persecuted true original Church of God.
These deceived "Christians" taught, and still teach, that now is the ONLY day of salvation, and that their counterfeit salvation of just "accepting" Jesus Christ, without the repentance of turning from sin and the obeying of God's law, would send people as "immortal souls" immediately to heaven upon death. (p.131)

HWA has now resorted to his "shotgun" approach to covering something that he has no Biblical support for, and it will take quite a bit here to cover all of it.

Let's break this down, and cover it point by point.

  1. The gospel according to HWA is a gospel OF Christ, and not ABOUT Christ.
  2. Deceived "Christians" teach now is the ONLY day of salvation.
  3. A counterfeit gospel of salvation is teaching and "accepting" Jesus Christ without repentance, defined as turning from sin and obeying God's law.
  4. This counterfeit gospel claims people go to heaven immediately upon death and are immortal souls in the process.

Now let's look at each of these.

1. The gospel according to HWA is a gospel OF Christ, and not ABOUT Christ.

The basis for HWA's interpretation of the gospel can be summed up in the words of Jesus Christ where he says, "repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." (Mark 1:15)

In HWA's theology, to repent is to quit breaking the Law which helped to define sin. It is a somewhat logical conclusion, but it is still flawed. HWA touches on some aspects of repentance, but was unable to put it all together. Repentance has to do with a change of heart; going from being motivated by "the flesh" and looking out for your own interests, to having love for even your enemies, and being concerned with the welfare of others. It was assumed this would happen through one who embraced the Law, but the exact opposite actually occurred. The more one tried to apply the Law in their lives, the less love they demonstrated toward others, and the more condemnation was applied to others who did not keep the Law.

It must also be understood that when Jesus walked the earth, He later taught the people in parables, allegories and figurative language to enlist their interest, and those who wanted to understand would have their eyes opened; those who didn't want to understand couldn't.

Mark 4:11: "And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:"

Matthew 13:12: "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath."

For instance: Mark 12:32-34: "And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question."

This scribe was described as being not far from the kingdom of God. Who was he standing near? Jesus.

Notice these other Scriptures that relate to the proximity of Jesus the Christ:

Matthew 12:28: "But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you."

Mark 10:14: "But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."

Luke 11:20: "But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you."

Luke 17:20-21: "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." [NAS: "in your midst"]

To better understand then what the gospel is and is not, we need to examine how it is defined in Scripture.

Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

Believes what? Believes the Law needs to be kept? Believes in the coming of the kingdom of God? The answer to this question is found in the writings of the apostles when they preached the gospel.

Ephesians 1:13: "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,..."

In the example of Peter going to preach to Cornelius the Centurion in Acts 10, Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit at the preaching of Peter. In essence, the Spirit of God came upon them because of what they believed, and what Peter was preaching to them was the gospel.

Acts 10:42-4: "And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word."

An important questions then: Was this gospel message of Peter a message about Jesus or of/from Jesus?

Those indoctrinated into Armstrongism will have a hard time comprehending this, for they have been indoctrinated into HWA's particular spin on the gospel.

Was anything said by Peter in regards to the "kingdom of God?" If the false gospel is one about Jesus, and the true gospel is the kingdom of God, being the government of God with the requirement of keeping the Law, then why did God grant Cornelius His Holy Spirit?

If the reader who holds to the teachings of HWA were to do a simple study of the apostles preaching the gospel, it would come out quickly that HWA was wrong. The New Testament is replete with examples of the gospel being about Jesus. One need only study and understand. What gets in the way is brought out in 2 Corinthians 3 where the apostle Paul points out that those who are ensconced in Moses and the Law have a veil before their eyes, blinding them to the true Christ, and by extension, the true gospel.

Acts 3:18-20: "But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:"

Acts 3:26: "Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." Acts 4:33: "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all."

2. Deceived "Christians" teach now is the ONLY day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2: "(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)"

The "day" is not important. What is important is faith in Jesus Christ.

3. A counterfeit gospel of salvation is teaching and "accepting" Jesus Christ without repentance, defined as turning from sin and obeying God's law.

This is an example of re-defining the other person's belief or position. It is not a matter of "accepting" Jesus Christ, but rather believing He is whom He claims to be—the Savior of all those who come to him in faith.

4. This counterfeit gospel claims people go to heaven immediately upon death and are immortal souls in the process.

This argument is a "red-herring." It is immaterial whether or not a Christian goes to heaven immediately upon death or later at a resurrection. The end result is the same. Those who have the Holy Spirit are said to already be in receipt of eternal life.5 Those dead in Christ are described as being asleep. If a Christian has the Holy Spirit, it can be argued that person now has an "immortal soul" in the sense he or she is assured salvation.

HWA has claimed in a few places up to this point in chapter three (p. 132), that the tree of life is not to be available until the kingdom of God is ruling on the earth, and that just a few prophets and the few called-out people now have access to the Holy Spirit. If the reader can understand, Jesus IS that tree of life. He is available NOW to those who believe the gospel. If one's gospel is restricted solely to the kingdom of God and its physical establishment on the earth, God and His Christ are diminished. The King of this kingdom is relegated to the position of mere messenger. He becomes a figurehead, and the real power is wielded by the "true church" which is the one controlling the church. HWA in this scenario is the modern day "Shogun" with Jesus as the Emperor, but with no real power. It is the Law and the government wherein lies the power; and the one that controls these wields that power.

Those who, as Jesus did, overcome Satan, their own selves and sin (the "called," that is) will sit with Christ in his throne when he comes to set up THE KINGDOM OF GOD and to restore the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, which the former Lucifer rejected and ceased to administer! (p.132)

Can we, as Jesus did, overcome Satan, our own selves and sin? Absolutely not! Yet here is HWA making the claim that it is by our own effort these things are accomplished. If so, then there would be no need for Christ! Or do you think that it is a matter of Jesus forgiving your sins, so that you can start from square one and try all over again to overcome these things? Every time you stumble, you would require Jesus Christ to be sacrificed for you all over again. But you are saying to yourself what HWA said to you; that the Holy Spirit in you enables you to keep the Law and not sin. Has that been your experience? You never sinned after your "conversion?" If the Holy Spirit was there to enable you to keep the Law as it was meant to be kept, then you would be keeping it! But this is NOT the function of the Holy Spirit. Read and study what the Holy Spirit does for a person.

On page 133, HWA gives his formula for conversion: receiving the Holy Spirit.

And none can receive the Holy Spirit until that person 1) REPENTS— of his sins, his transgressions of God's law; and 2) has complete faith in Jesus Christ—relying on Christ—which includes BELIEVING Jesus Christ. I mean, believing what he says—his WORD, the Holy Bible! (p. 133)

This formula will produce an endless frustration for the would-be convert. That person will find themselves always falling short when it comes to keeping the Law, and this in turn will be perceived as a lack of faith in Jesus Christ. The end result for HWA are people totally dependent upon him because of their self-perceived inability to measure up to this impossible standard instead of being dependent upon Jesus Christ and having our righteousness through Him.

Instead of producing Christians who are happy and fulfilled in Christ, they are miserable and constantly in fear of falling short; not qualifying for salvation. HWA went so far as to proclaim to "the church" years ago that only half of those in "the church" would be saved if Christ were to return at that time. One's salvation was totally and completely dependent upon one's performance in keeping the Law. Somehow, through this formula, some would be saved, even though it was also taught no one, even with the Holy Spirit, could keep the Law perfectly. So we see things taught that essentially are diametrically opposed to each other:

  1. The Holy Spirit enables a Christian to keep the Law.
  2. Even with the Holy Spirit, one cannot keep the Law perfectly, even though the requirement was to keep it perfectly.
  3. Christ came to fill the Law to the full, adding the spirit of the law to the letter, yet;
  4. The law is somehow "dumbed down" for Christians for the sake of salvation, seeing as it cannot be kept perfectly, and;
  5. Christians are never quite sure what level or degree he or she has to keep the Law in order to "make it into the kingdom."

The result is unhappy Christians, never sure if they are pleasing to their "husband" Jesus Christ. (Rom. 7:4) There is no joy, only a constant dread of falling short. How would you like to be bound to a mate who you didn't know from day to day if he or she was mad at you, or displeased with your actions, and you always felt like you were never good enough? How long would that marriage last?

On page 133, HWA reiterates that salvation was not available until the crucifixion of Christ, therefore someone like Abel or Seth, even though they might have repented, could not have received the Spirit of God. Yet previous to this HWA commented that there were exceptions, such as the prophets. This is another case of preaching two different things in order to keep people off balance spiritually and dependent on him.

Chapter 3 summation:

The Mystery of Man was claimed to be that man is not or has not an immortal soul, and man's destiny is to be born into the God "family."

What was actually covered was the same theme found in the first two chapters; the kingdom of God being the government and law of God. Jesus Christ as king of the kingdom was given some lip service, but was still relegated to a minor role in this regard.

By William Hohmann
Exit & Support Network™
June 2004

Next to MOA Chapter Four

Table of Contents & Intro | Chap. 1 | Chap. 2 | Chap. 3 | Chap. 4 | Chap. 5 | Chap. 6Chap 7  

Footnotes for Chapter Three:

1 There are certain foundational doctrines (or teachings) of the Christian faith which have always been associated with Jesus Christ's church, such as: the Word becoming flesh through the incarnation, Jesus' virgin birth, His miracles and His bodily resurrection from the dead, which many liberal churches today deny, but this does mean they are to be emphasized by a lack of love.

2 Nowhere does the Bible say the Holy Spirit is "injected" into believers. Instead, it "is given" (Lk. 11:14; I Rom. 5:5; Thes. 4:8); "is received" (Jn. 7:39; Jn. 20:22; Acts 8:15, 17), "seals" (Eph. 1:13; 4:30); "fills" (Acts 2:4; Acts 13:9; Acts 13:52); "falls" (Acts 10:44; Acts 11:15); "comes" (Acts 19:6); is "sent" (I Pet. 1:12) and many other verses. Read: Is the Holy Spirit Only the Power of God?

3 See ESN article: How Do I Receive Eternal Life?

4 "...Whosoever lives and believes in Jesus will never die because Jesus has already died for him. That is, he will never die a penal death for his sins. He will never be separated from God." (Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee, John 11:26, Vol. 4, p. 439)    

5 The word "accept" also has the meaning of "to receive willingly"; "to recognize as true"; or to "believe." Therefore to say "I accept Christ" is not in error.


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