WHY GOD IS NOT REAL
to Most People
Millions say they believe in God - but WHY does He seem so
FAR OFF to them? Millions have heard ABOUT God, but do not
KNOW God. This article tells you HOW you CAN.'
by Herbert W. Armstrong
ARE YOU LIKE the person who said to me, "Oh I believe in God all right, but it seems like He is so far off so UNREAL!"
WHY do most people feel that way? WHY should God seem UNREAL - like an
almost invisible filmy wisp - or a phantom - or something shapeless and
Born Without Knowledge
The instant you were born you knew nothing about God. You knew nothing
period! You were born with a mind capable of receiving, but as yet
unfilled with knowledge.
Whatever you may know - or think you know - about God, has come into your mind since birth.
How did knowledge begin coming into your mind? There are only five
channels through which knowledge may come, naturally,
into the human mind the channels of sight, sound, taste,
But also there are three dimensions of knowledge or consciousness: the
around, the uithin, and the ABOVE. Yet the natural mind of a mortal
human comprehends only the first two. Babies grow into childhood with
awareness of only the around and the within.
But as a child, through the sense of hearing, you probably were told
something about God. But understandable knowledge of God comes from the
third dimension - the ABOVE. And the ABOVE is spiritual. God is a
Spirit. Spiritual things cannot be seen, nor heard, nor felt, nor
tasted, nor smelt. Understanding of spiritual things simply cannot
enter the human mind through the five sensual channels.
Therefore it is
probable that the adults trying to tell you
about God did not have true perception and understanding. And it is
natural that whatever knowledge about God entered your mind - through
the ear, or the eye - was vague, misty, UNREAL. YOU couldn't SEE God.
Spirit is invisible to human eyes (except, as has happened, by
sonic-miraculous "materializing" or means of manifestation).
You couldn't hear God. You had no actual conscious contact with Him.
You probably formed some imaginary picture in your mind of what you
supposed He must be like- based on what might have been told you, or
what you may have read. But you didn't SEE or HEAR Him - you read or
heard only something ABOUT Him! And the picture was unclear, clouded,
out of focus, ethereal.
Is it any wonder He did not seem REAL - that He seemed so far off?
There are millions of professing Christians and Jews who say that they
believe in God. Many profess to know more or less about Him. But
knowing about Him is a far cry from knowing HIM!
The INVISIBLE "First Cause"
The very presence of the around seems to the normal mind to demand a
"First Cause" to have produced it. Yet -
MYSTERY of MYSTERIES!
The "first Cause" is not seen, heard, smelt, tasted or
felt. So many ideas, concepts and conjectures have been brought forth
out of human imagination as to the nature of that "First Cause."
Yet the true God does reveal Himself, to those who are willing to
comprehend and to obey. And He says these people, conscious of the
around, who formulate their own ideas as to the "First Cause" are
without excuse for denying the true God and putting in His place some
fanciful conjecture of their own making through distorted human
"Because that which may be KNOWN OF GOD is manifest in them; For God
hath shown it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the
creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things
that are made, even His eternal Power and Godhead; so that they are
without excuse" (Rom. 1:19-20). Or, as the Moffatt translation makes
plain: ". . . His invisible nature, His everlasting power and divine
being, have been made quite perceptible in what He has made." That is,
the material things He has created and made reflect plainly the nature,
power, and divine being of the invisible MAKER.
The verse preceding the above says the world's leaders have known the
truth, but have held it back from the people - prevented them from
receiving a clear understanding. "But God's anger is revealed from
heaven against all the impiety and wickedness of those who hinder [hold
back} the Truth by their wickedness" (Rom. 1:18, Moffatt).
So what is usually told to a growing child about God usually is a very distorted picture, indeed!
Still, hearing about a person is not really knowing the person!
One Man's Experience There was super-righteous Job, the greatest man in
all the East. God even challenged Satan, the accuser of God's people,
to find a single sinful or unrighteous flaw in his character. Even
though allowed to put Job through the most
painful and severe
trials, Satan could find nothing against him.
Of course there was something very unrighteous about Job. All have
sinned - including Job. His great sin was his very SELF-righteousness.
Satan could not recognize SELF-righteousness as a sin.
But after God whittled Job down to size, humbled him, made him see his
own insignificance and vanity - his nothingness compared to the great
God, Job said, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now
mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I ABHOR MYSELF, and repent in dust and
ashes!" (Job 42:5-6.)
Getting to KNOW God is quite different from HEARING about Him.
So, what does the average person know about God? They started out, from
youngest childhood, knowing whatever they had heard or been told, by
parents or others. And since those leaders who once did know God (Rom.
1:21) held back the Truth, and, becoming fools (verse 22), gave a
distorted and untrue teaching, most of what has been told growing
children in our time has been a
perversion of the Truth.
Perhaps some children were told NOTHING about God at all as they were
growing from babyhood toward adolescence and into early adulthood. But
most probably they have been told more or less about God before they
actually read anything about Him IN THE BIBLE. Also they very probably
had read what others had written about Him before reading anything in
the Bible for themselves.
So what did they know? They knew only what had been told or
communicated to them by those AROUND them. They knew only what they had
received from other people who did not themselves KNOW God. Those from
whom they learned knew only what they, in turn, had gathered from still
other misinformed and deceived people. Not from the ABOVE - but from
the AROUND! Not from God Himself, but from the AROUND. And your Bible
says the other people constitute a deceived world!
And when such a person, approaching or reaching early adulthood, does
read the Bible, his concept of God has been so firmly implanted in his
mind by other people, he continues picturing God in the same way.
He probably is just as I was for many, many years: I did read the Bible
at times - but I then said: "I just can't understand the Bible."
Well, NO WONDER, then, that most people who profess to "believe in God" say God seems unreal to them.'
They are like Job. Job's source of knowledge, before his personal
confrontation with God, had been from the around - he had heard about
God by the hearing of the ear, from other people. God never seemed real
to him until he gained PERSONAL CONTACT - until he got to really KNOW
There is a way in which YOU can establish actual direct personal
contact with God - if you have not done so already. Then He will become
Let me give you an illustration. Let's say you have heard about Raymond
F. McNair. He is Regional Editor of The PLAIN TRUTH for Britain and
Deputy Chancellor of Ambassador College at the English campus. You may
have read one or two of his articles in The PLAIN TRUTH. But let us
suppose you have never seen his picture- you have never seen him in
person, you have never talked with him. Suppose someone has told you a
few things about him, twisting the facts, and giving you untrue
You may know a few things about him - and some of those distorted - but
you surely could not say that you know him. If you have not even seen
his picture you don't know what he looks like. Many people, having
heard me on the radio, said on seeing me in person, "Why you don't look
a bit like I pictured you in my mind."
In the same way, if you should come into personal contact with Mr.
McNair, you'd probably be surprised to see that he wouldn't look at all
like you pictured him. But, if you were suddenly thrown in his company
almost constantly, seeing him virtually every day, talking with him,
seeing him in his office and in his home, you'd get to know him! I know
him well. I have known him ever since he came to the front door of my
home in Pasadena nearly 21 years ago. Three days later he entered
Ambassador College as a student. In four years he graduated. He
continued his studies, doing graduate work, earning his Master's
degree. I see him fairly often. I visit him in his home. I know his
wife and children very well. His elder daughter, when she was about
three years old, said she had adopted me. She's a lot bigger now - and
she says I'm still "adopted." I spend a good deal of time talking with
Mr. McNair - about college problems about student and man-power
problems - about personal interests. I have
gotten to know him!
But, if you have not even seen his picture, you don't know him!
You haven't seen God's picture either. But He gives you a certain
description of what He looks like, in the Bible. Yet not as to His
The Person of God Revealed
I can tell you that I know God - and that I also know the living Jesus
Christ for I represent Him as His servant. I read about Him - not as
other people Mis-describe Him - but as He describes
Himself in His BIBLE!
But, I said a while ago that more than 42 years ago I "just couldn't
understand the Bible." No ONE CAN, really, until they have gained
contact with God (the Father) through Jesus Christ, and have received
His Holy Spirit, begetting them as His begotten children. That requires
the same kind of REPENTANCE Job was put through - a genuine abhorring
of the self, an unconditional SURRENDER to OBEY Him and His Law, and a
real faith in Jesus Christ as personal Saviour. When I was brought to
that kind of repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ, in
early 1927, and was baptized, He gave me the most precious GIFT in all
the universe - His Holy Spirit.
His Spirit opened my mind to SPIRITUAL COMPREHENSION. I could
UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE - a bit at a time, of course. In it, the living
Christ began talking to me. I began to talk to Him - often, daily, in a
sense constantly, in spirit. When I studied the Bible, it was like
listening to the most wonderful Friend I had ever known! It was
WONDERFUL! It was INTERESTING - INSPIRING - REVEALING! SO I studied the
Bible often on my knees.
You see, as I read the Bible, God was talking to me. But as I prayed, I
was talking to HIM! And by studying His Word on my knees, I was able to
carry on a two-way conversation with Him - mixing prayer with listening
to Him through reading His words. It was invigorating, rejuvenating
beyond words to describe. He was TEACHING ME. I was gaining new
KNOWLEDGE - spiritual knowledge - knowledge to LIVE BY - knowledge to
put into action - instruction to be acted on - commands to OBEY by
As He told me about Himself - as He talked to me, instructed me - and as I talked to Him - I got to know Him! He BECAME REAL!
He was no longer WAY OFF ! He was very NEAR - in Spirit, in the very
same room. I have never seen God or Jesus Christ PHYSICALLY - with my
physical eye - but I see them often, spiritually in my mind. Not
precise definite features, of course - but I "see" in my "mind's eye"
eyes flashing out like a flame of fire - His face shining as brightly
as the sun in full strength-His head and hair white as the cleanest,
whitest snow. And all around where He is sitting is gleaming,
glistening beautiful SPLENDOR and brightness, with lightning flashing
forth. Perhaps I don't "see" this as distinctly as I expect to after I
enter His Kingdom as an inheritor, BORN of His Spirit in SPIRIT
COMPOSITION - no longer a mortal human composed of
flesh and blood.
It is, of course, as the Apostle Paul was inspired to say: we see at
best, now, as through a darkened glass, but then, in the resurrection,
in His Kingdom, face to face. (I Cor. 13:12).
WHY is God "so far off - so unreal" ? It is because people are so far
off from HIM - so close to the physical, material things and interests
of this evil world! Because their minds are on physical pursuits all
the time. Because they have no time for God!
You get to KNOW those you are close to - in constant contact with - in conversation with!
But, with most, their sins have CUT THEM OFF from contact with God.
Is it, then, impossible for them to GAIN CONTACT?
Not at all! But IT IS NOT EASY!
Because you have to REPENT - and that is NOT EASY. To just say the
words "I abhor myself," does not mean you really do. To really CONFESS
that you have been WRONG - that you are NOT GOOD - that there is
nothing good IN YOU - that you not only have DONE wrong and sinned but
that you ARE wrong and sinful - that is not easy. The SELF has to DIE -
and your human nature will fight that to the death. To make an
UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER to God and His LAW - His authority over you -
His commandments - His teaching - His WAY of living that is so UTTERLY
CONTRARY to the way your friends and associates are living - that is
SELF within you will shout out: "But what would my friends - all my
associates - those I have been close to -what would THEY think?" You'll
have to be willing to GIVE THEM UP - for they probably will throw you
over - IF you surrender to God, let Him turn your life right-side-up,
live a totally changed life according to His teaching!
Are you too big a coward to do it? You have to be WILLING to GIVE UP -
everything! - for HIM. DO you want HIM that much? Do you want the
happiness of a REAL Christian LIFE that much? Do you want ETERNAL LIFE
in His Kingdom that much? Few do!
That's why God is not REAL to most.
Of course they are not really HAPPY. But they are unwilling to live THE
WAY that causes happiness. They would rather keep on TRYING to gain it
some other way. They NEVER WILL, however. All humanity has been trying
that for 6,000 years! NONE ever yet succeeded. Do you think YOU can?
God CAN be real to you - but are you willing?
There are the THREE DIMENSIONS. Most people have consciousness of only
the first TWO! They seek pleasures, happiness, in the AROUND-things,
people - this world! There arc some temporary thrills, delights,
pleasures. Sure! But they NEVER LAST! And you pay too big a price for
them. They're a bad bargain.
You may look to the within but it's like looking down into a well
that's gone DRY. There's nothing there to quench that inner thirst.
You CAN contact the ABOVE ! IT you're willing to pay the PRICE - that
is. It isn't easy. But it's the ONLY dimension that SATISFIES - that
fills that inner void - that feeds that gnawing soul HUNGER - that
expands your horizons - that opens your MIND to the glories of
SPIRITUAL COMPREHENSION of understanding SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE - of
really UNDERSTANDING the Bible, in a way that produces happiness
brimful and running over!
It's WORTH the price YOU pay a million times over. Jesus Christ paid
the REAL price - the BIG price. The price you pay, in GIVING UP in
surrender to Him, is as nothing by comparison.
It's the GREATEST BARGAIN in the world - but the world does not offer it, or ANY bargain. GOD DOES!
There are TWO directions you can go in life. Most people go the
direction of SELF - vanity! It's the way of self-centeredness.
Everything is coining INWARD. Toward SELF. Getting! Taking! Acquiring!
And you keep shrinking smaller and smaller.
The other direction is the way of God's LOVE. Love fulfills His Law.
LOVE is outgoing concern! It is, first of all, GoD-centeredncss. It is
LOVE to God, in worship, adoration, faith, obedience. It is, second,
LOVE to fellowman loving others AS yourself.
That's a lot of love. That is the
WAY of the ABOVE. That way constantly EXPANDS your
horizons. That way you GROW - and GROW - and GROW! YOU DEVELOP! You
develop GOD'S CHARACTER ! You GROW in love - in happiness - in abundant
well-being! LIFE becomes abundant and JOYFUL!
Willing to pay the price? It's not giving up so much MONEY - it's
giving up things you've had your heart set on that are BAD for you.
It's coming to a new sense of VALUES - values that MAKE SENSE!
I know! I have known 42 years. Life has had its problems, persecutions,
disappointments - but it's been RICH, FULL, REWARDING, ABUNDANT!
Everyone CAN have it - if they want it deeply enough.
Even YOU! God BECOMES REAL!