GREETINGS! Right now I'm greatly relieved, enthusiastic, a little EXCITED -- and very HAPPY!!! This personally concerns YOU!
By experience I've learned that it really is "more blessed to give than to receive" -- and now for the first time in more than 27 years I am in position to GIVE something very fine such as I have never been able to do before. And I mean it! This is just a straight gift -- and I hope you'll like it as much as I think you will!
I'm deeply GRATEFUL for your interest in The Plain Truth, The WORLD TOMORROW program, and our booklets. It's been my custom to send out, semi-annually, a personal, general letter to each of our subscribers to The Plain Truth -- to tell you frankly and candidly a few things about this world-wide work, and to answer questions many ask about myself and those who work with me.
Each time, I've been able to offer you a new or special free booklet. But this time it has been made possible to present you with something very special! I'm really thrilled, and I would like to tell you how it came about.
But first, let me explain just a bit about WHY we make no charge for anything -- HOW this policy came about, and how your subscription to The Plain Truth has been paid for you -- why you cannot pay for it yourself. Yes, I realize it sounds pretty strange. I guess almost everything about the broadcast, The Plain Truth, and this entire work seems a little strange, because it is all SO DIFFERENT!
In these annual letters I have answered before a question so many ask: "Just who are you, anyway? Do you represent a religious denomination, or what? Who sponsors you? WHY don't you charge a subscription price, and put a price on printed matter?"
I have explained before that even as Christ joined none of the religious denominations of that day, so this, HIS WORK, is non-denominational today.
As many of our readers know, I decided, at age 18, that I belonged in the advertising field. I chose jobs for the training, education and experience, rather than amount of salary. I worked hard, and studied late! Ten years later I was making far above average income in my own business as a magazine advertising publishers' representative in Chicago.
In 1926 I was provoked into a study of the Bible for the first time in my life. I had been reared by sincere and upright parents in one of the respected Protestant denominations. But at the time I entered the advertising profession, that completely absorbed my time and interest. Church attendance was almost completely dropped -- religion seldom entered my mind.
Like most nominal church members, I never really knew what doctrines this church believed, or how they differed from other denominations. Of course I had always heard, and taken for granted as true, such BASIC teachings as the immortality of the soul; the "saved" going to heaven when they die; the unsaved into an eternally burning, torturing hell; the crucifixion of Christ on "Good Friday" and the resurrection on "Easter Sunday." I had of course been taught from babyhood to observe Christmas, New Years, Easter, and to go to church every Sunday.
But in 1926 my wife shocked and angered me by embracing a teaching diametrically contrary to one of these basic tenets. She claimed she had seen this new teaching in the Bible. I was aroused. Anything different from the universally accepted beliefs and practices seemed strange -- fanatical! It seemed she had gone crazy.
"What would my friends and business associates think?" was my first thought. My pride was wounded. An iron wall of angered prejudice welled up in my emotions. But I was unable to talk or argue her out of it.
"Look!" I said, "Do you know more about the Bible than all these churches? They get their beliefs out of the Bible!"
"I'll give this up on one condition," Mrs. Armstrong replied. "If you can find, and show me, IN THE BIBLE, this commonly accepted teaching, or any BIBLE AUTHORITY for believing and following it, then I'll gladly go back to it."
I was confident all these basic beliefs, universally accepted by professing Christians, came from the Bible. I was determined to prove my wife wrong and rescue her from this new "fanaticism."
For the first time, I really studied the Bible. But six months of almost night and day searching brought a humiliating blow to my vanity. The supposed "Christian" teaching was not to be found in the Bible -- but diametrically the opposite! I began to question even the Bible -- even the existence of God! I was bewildered, mixed up, shaken. Now I had to know the TRUTH!
So I delved into science -- evolution -- laws of radio- activity. I found evolution a theory, not provable. But I found absolute PROOF of the existence of God -- PROOF that the Holy Bible is His inspired revelation and instruction to mankind -- that it speaks with AUTHORITY! I proved that I could believe it!
All this brought me to see myself as I really was, in connection to Jesus Christ -- to real repentance and submission. It completely changed my life. Now I could have real FAITH in Jesus Christ. When I gave myself over to Him, I honestly felt I was giving something completely worthless -- but He had bought and paid for me, and I gave Him my life -- if He could make anything of it. Accepting Jesus Christ as personal Saviour -- receiving Christ -- meant to me letting the resurrected LIVING Christ actually come into my life and live my life for me henceforth, not as I would, but as HE WILLS -- so that I could say with the Apostle Paul, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal 2:20).
Never before could I understand the Bible. But now, as soon as I surrendered to God to OBEY Him, and received his Spirit, it became plain, understandable, and the most interesting thing in life! I continued study almost night and day.
In 1931 I had been drawn into Christ's ministry and ordained. In 1933 I was receiving a very small salary. I found that I was going to be forced by those who paid it to act contrary to the plain teaching of the Bible. I learned then that if I was to be free to SERVE God, and to preach HIS WORD faithfully, I would have to look to God, in faith, AND NOT TO MEN, for economic needs. My Bible promised: "My God shall supply all your need" (Phil 4:19).
If MEN paid me, I would have to serve men. I could not work for the United States Government and then expect the Russian Kremlin to pay me for loyalty to America! Also, IF God supplied the need, then God would demand I serve Him LOYALLY and FAITHFULLY. My wife and I refused the small salary at once.
Almost immediately after that, God opened the DOOR of RADIO and the PRINTING PRESS for the mass production of CHRIST'S TRUE GOSPEL!
WHO SPONSORS THIS WORK? God does! I sent out letters to the few people I knew asking pledges to put me on the air. But PEOPLE failed to pledge the amount -- only about half. I trusted God for the other half and went on the air anyway -- paying in advance before each broadcast. Often 30 minutes before broadcast time found us without the money, on our knees praying -- asking GOD for it. In one way or another -- most unexpected ways -- it always came. We never had to miss a program!
After some 10 1/2 months Christ opened another radio door in a city -- 10 times as big -- Portland, Oregon. This time I failed to trust God, and wanted to rely on the pledges of PEOPLE. Again I sent out a letter asking people to pledge the cost of this bigger-city station. Only a few pledges came. I lost the chance -- the door was closed for TWO MORE WHOLE YEARS!
Then finally it opened again. This time I TRUSTED GOD. We started, and God supplied the need in ways I never could have devised. Then He opened another radio door -- in Seattle; then another -- Los Angeles. As we TRUSTED GOD -- as we remained FAITHFUL TO HIS WORD, daring to preach HIS TRUTH -- more and more stations opened up.
In time, Christ's Gospel was being heard coast to coast in America. Then, early January, 1953, the mighty door of Radio Luxembourg swung open to us, reaching EUROPE and BRITAIN. Then more and more stations -- AROUND THE WORLD.
The little hand-duplicated Plain Truth grew in circulation from some 150 copies in 1934 to more than 300,000 copies today, in three editions -- U.S., British, and Australian. The very next number will go up to 40 pages -- 8 more than it has been for the past year or so.
As soon as we learned the lesson -- to LOOK TO GOD for the supplying of OUR NEED -- -to ask Him on our knees instead of begging for money over the air, or putting a PRICE on His priceless TRUTH -- He began to expand and enlarge the power and scope of HIS WORK. He has blessed us with unselfish, loyal co-workers in HIS ministry of love. Yes, we have found it is more blessed to GIVE than to receive!
For more than 27 years now we have been enabled in this way to GIVE Christ's precious Gospel FREE! We never ask for financial support on the air -- we don't even hint at it. This entire work is DIFFERENT! NO WONDER it does seem STRANGE to some! God's ways are not men's ways! We have never put a price on any literature. We have always been able to send out full year's subscriptions to The Plain Truth ALREADY PAID -- you simply cannot pay for your own!
NOW! My SURPRISE for you!
In the past two or three years we have begun to realize that the time is coming when we must begin publishing something more than our many attractive booklets. The time has come when there is a need for complete BOOKS on certain subjects.
The first need seemed to be a totally new and different kind of BIBLE STORY book for children. I could see that our ministry was neglecting the children. Yet all the Bible story books I had seen contained a series of totally disconnected blood- and-thunder stories of violence. They missed entirely GOD'S MEANING. They dramatized the incidents of David killing the giant Goliath, Daniel in the lion's den, and others. There was no connection between them, nor with the Gospel, nor with God's PURPOSE here below.
For years I wanted to produce a Bible Story book that would have the intended Bible MEANING -- even more thrillingly interesting than any I had seen -- actually instructing, in an interesting manner, in God's Message.
The way finally opened!
Not only for CHILDREN -- but for ADULTS AS WELL!
One of the earliest to be converted as a result of the broadcast -- more than 20 years ago -- was a nationally known artist and writer, Basil Wolverton. Three times LIFE magazine has devoted editorially a number of pages to his work. TIME magazine has commented on his work repeatedly. His work has appeared in Pageant extensively, and in a total of 58 magazines in America. He has been a Bible teacher for years.
I asked Mr. Wolverton to undertake this great mission, and he accepted the challenge.
Then we decided it ought to be a book for ADULTS, as well as children! By writing in language primarily adapted to the ten to twelve year old level, children a few years younger could understand and enjoy it -- AND IT WOULD ALSO BE INTERESTING TO ADULTS. Mr Wolverton has a son right in this age-level to be helpful as his "guinea-pig" for testing. We decided on that, because parents of still younger children could read it to them, and with a little personal explaining, make it perfectly plain and understandable to children or five or less.
Instead of disconnected stories, this is THE STORY OF THE BIBLE, from beginning to end! It begins at the beginning -- Genesis chapter 1, verse 1. In simple, plain, understandable, yet most interesting style, as only Mr. Wolverton can write, he unfolds the exciting story-flow of the whole Bible. Of course it skips over such statistical passages as genealogies and such things. These are in the Bible for a REASON -- they have their purpose -- but our aim now is to relate in today's language the story-sequence and flow of EVENTS -- the STORY of the Bible.
The book is profusely illustrated with Mr. Wolverton's own striking illustrations.
For the first time in your life you probably will see what the events of Adam and Eve in the Garden in Eden, of Cain killing Abel, on down to the Flood, then on to the Tower or Babel, Abraham, and on through the Bible, really have to do with US AND OUR LIVES TODAY -- with world happenings TODAY -- with God's PURPOSE of life, its unfolding and working out.
Mr. Wolverton has a rare talent for narrating these continuous events in understandable language that will grip you, hold your interest, and make the Word of God MEAN SOMETHING. It makes the Bible live, as you may never have thought of it before.
BUT WE HIT A SNAG!
Never have we put a price on any literature. It seemed we could not avoid it now. How could we produce a whole BOOK, without charge to the recipients? Yet we simply could not bring ourselves to put a price on God's literature.
We found a temporary solution. We could make the contents of the book free to everyone, first, by publishing it serially in The Plain Truth. The BOOK could come later. This gave us time to solve our dilemma. So it was started serially in The Plain Truth with the November, 1958, number.
Early in 1960 the time had come to publish the first volume in book form, with some 12 to 14 installments in the one volume. So we had a conference in our Business Manager's office with him, Mr. Wolverton, publishing house representatives, Garner Ted Armstrong, and Herman L. Hoeh, Managing Editor of The Plain Truth.
We went into many questions: how much would it cost, per copy? How fine a book should it be? Of course I should have liked to produce a very fine deluxe quality book. I feel a thing worth doing is worth doing the best we can -- and that is GOD'S principle. But we found such a book would cost upwards of $10 per copy! The representative of the book publishers suggested a middle-fine quality at lower cost.
But we still felt reluctant to put a price on God's Message. We thought of compromising. How about putting a price on it slightly less than cost to us? We thought we might feel better about it if we could sell it below cost to us.
But, do you know, WE JUST COULD NOT BRING OURSELVES TO DO EVEN THAT! We put it off. A whole year went by. Now I really felt guilty! People NEEDED this book. It ought not to be delayed!
Just recently, before Mrs. Armstrong and I returned again to the new Ambassador College in England, we held another conference in Pasadena. The publishing house representative had two very beautiful cover designs to submit. He knew our serious problem. He now suggested a way to reduce production cost still more. If we could go into MASS PRODUCTION -- really BIG QUANTITY production -- 50,000 or 100,000 copies, and using one of these handsome cover designs on a high-grade light cardboard cover instead of cloth board, the cost would be further reduced.
THAT WAS THE ANSWER! Immediately we saw that at last God had made it possible to publish this much-needed book, in VAST QUANTITY -- making it available to many more people -- WITHOUT PRICE -- AS A FREE GIFT FROM US!
What a relief! This problem had weighed heavily on our minds for over a year. You see, other books must also be published from now on!
Now the Eternal God, whose instruments we are, had solved the dilemma for us. Now we could proceed immediately with VOLUME I of The BIBLE STORY! Never have we put a price on God's Truth. NOW WE KNOW WE NEVER SHALL!
So THAT'S what I am now so THRILLED ABOUT! It made us all very happy, I can assure you! That's why I am writing you -- to offer YOU your copy of this handsome, valuable book, as a free GIFT. And let me assure you that it is going to give all of us -- my Co-Workers and me -- even more happiness and joy in being able to give it in this way, than it will you in receiving it.
The finished books are due from the bindery May 15th, in Pasadena. Your free copy will be ready for mailing then.
Now, finally, I'm sure you will understand the necessity for a few precautionary restrictions. We can send only one copy to a family or household. We cannot send copies to others at your request. WE CANNOT SEND BULK COPIES FOR YOU TO DISTRIBUTE. We are not able, nor would it be God's way, to simply scatter these abroad promiscuously.
But we are overjoyed that God has made it possible to send YOU your copy, purely as a gift to you as a regular reader of The Plain Truth -- WITHOUT PRICE.
I do ask, however, that you REQUEST IT FOR YOURSELF, if you want it, as I hope and feel sure you will. It is not God's way to force His Word, His Truth, or His salvation on anyone. We never send anything except by personal request. We want to be sure it will be welcome!
I think this is a splendid and most valuable book. People of all ages have been reading the installments in The Plain Truth, with tremendous interest. If you missed those first installments, you can now have them in this book. If you read them, you'll want to read them again.
Later, we hope to publish VOLUME II -- and then other books, including my forth-coming book, demanded by thousands, on God's frank truth about Sex and Marriage. I hope to start that soon, serially, in The Plain Truth -- then later in book form.
So, before you lay this letter down, I hope you will send in your request for your copy. Please use the enclosed self- addressed envelope, so we shall know you are entitled to a copy.
THANK YOU, sincerely, again, for your interest.
With love, in Jesus' name,
Herbert W. Armstrong