Look at the history of what Mr. Armstrong was able to accomplish during the time that he prayed daily at the prayer rock.
To spread word about the upcoming public meetings, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Fisher walked and drove to all the homes within five or so miles, passing out flyers. That was just about the only way to draw people to the truth of God in those days. At the first meeting, 27 of 35 chairs were filled. The number dipped to 19 on the second night.
After the second meeting, though, attendance spiked because of what happened during the meeting. A man named Belshaw had made it his custom to heckle new speakers at the theological seminary on the nearby University of Oregon campus. Since he owned the most extensive theological library in the district, he considered himself a Bible scholar. His intent at those meetings hosted by Oregon theology students was to put them on the spot with a trick question. He figured that if he could trip them up, the audience would laugh and then wouldn’t attend any further meetings. He decided to try the same method on Mr. Armstrong at the Firbutte schoolhouse.
But Mr. Armstrong was seeking divine power at the prayer rock before these Bible meetings. His contact with God had prepared him for Mr. Belshaw’s challenge.
An Attack on the Law
“Have you been saved yet?” Mr. Belshaw asked.
“Jesus said, in Matthew 24:13, that he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” Mr. Armstrong replied. “And in the very next verse, Jesus also said that His gospel of the Kingdom—which is the rule of God—the keeping of His commandments—shall be preached in all the world as a witness. That is what I am doing here tonight. Why do you not obey the commandments, as Jesus said, Mr. Belshaw?” (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Chapter 29: “The Real Beginning of Present Work”). Mr. Armstrong was blunt and bold. His inspiration came from answered prayer.
Mr. Belshaw said he would keep the Ten Commandments if he could see any love in them.
“Then you must be spiritually blind,” Mr. Armstrong responded. “The Ten Commandments are merely the 10 points of the great law of love. The first four tell you how to love God; the last six how to love thy neighbor. The Bible says love is the fulfilling of the law. The commandments came from God, and God is love. He gave the commandments. Do you think God ever did anything that was not done in love?”
The people at this tiny schoolhouse must have been astonished! These were fireworks like they had never seen before. Mr. Armstrong had come ready to take on anyone who dared try to make God and the law look bad!
Nearly every critic of Mr. Armstrong presented him with challenging questions about the law. Mr. Belshaw’s behavior was human nature in action. Human nature hates God’s law!
When members begin to drift spiritually and read the wrong meaning into scriptures, it almost always starts as a problem with the law. If we let down and get away from our prayer rock, that is so often where our perspective gets off track. Mr. Armstrong learned that lesson and taught it to us.
How protective of God’s law are you? Do you take a stand for the God of love and His law of love?
What an example Mr. Armstrong set. Here he was, talking to a tiny group of people—as yet, making no impact on the world. What difference did it make whether he went to his prayer rock? At first glance, you might say not much at all; it was only directly impacting those few people. But God used, and will use, Mr. Armstrong to teach the whole world about the law and government of God! Mr. Armstrong went on from this small start to make a worldwide impact!
Mr. Belshaw couldn’t answer Mr. Armstrong’s rebuke. Word spread of the confrontation, and attendance at the Bible meetings grew to as many as 64—29 of those people had to stand.
Defending the Sabbath
At another of these Bible meetings, Mr. Armstrong invited a young visiting minister to give the opening prayer. Like Mr. Belshaw, this minister also fought against God’s law. He knew that Mr. Armstrong planned to speak about the Sabbath, so he used his prayer to try to discredit the entire lecture.
“I thank thee, O Lord, that we have a Christ to worship, and not a day!” the minister prayed. “Help us, O Lord, to preach Christ, and Him crucified—not about days and laws. Help us to be like the Apostle Paul, who said, ‘I am determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.’”
While this rebellious minister prayed, Mr. Armstrong prayed silently and earnestly for God to provide the answer. God gave him the right words to say.
“I am glad to know that Mr. … (I don’t remember his name) says he is determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, for I, too, am of the same determination. I am going to preach Jesus Christ, and Him crucified tonight! But to do that, one must first know why Jesus Christ had to be crucified!
“I have just received a letter from my wife in Salem,” I continued. “She wrote me that our elder little son, Richard David, 5 years old, has just preached his first sermon. He, too, preached Christ crucified. He and another little boy were playing by the side of our house. The window was open, and my wife overheard the conversation. The other little boy had been using a lot of slang. Our Dicky was exasperated. He picked up two sticks, crossing the longer with the shorter one.
“‘Now you look here, Donald,’ said Dicky with flashing indignation. ‘Do you know what this is?’
“‘No,’ answered Donald.
“‘Well, this here is a cross. And they had to put Jesus Christ up on a cross, and drive nails through His hands and His feet, and nail Him to that cross so He would die, just because you have been saying gosh and darn and gee-whiz! Don’t you say those words any more!’
“And I wonder,” I continued, “if people realize that sin is the transgression of God’s law—and that Jesus Christ was crucifiedbecause you people have been transgressing His holy Sabbath!Don’t you profane what is holy to God any more! And now I propose to preach to you Christ crucified tonight—and why He was crucified!” (ibid).
The young minister stormed out of the schoolhouse, furious and embarrassed, as the audience laughed at him. All he had done was provide Mr. Armstrong with the best possible introduction for his sermon.
Mr. Belshaw’s Last Stand
Mr. Belshaw wasn’t done with Mr. Armstrong just yet. He made a comeback—his last stand. By this time, the Firbutte schoolhouse meetings had concluded, and Mr. Armstrong was holding meetings three times a week at a schoolhouse four miles to the west.
Mr. Belshaw waited until the end of Mr. Armstrong’s sermon and then loudly questioned him about the Sabbath. Mr. Armstrong was not surprised like he had been before. He smiled confidently, knowing that God would provide the correct answer.
“If it is binding on us, then it was necessary for Paul to teach them to keep it. Now can you show me any scripture where the Apostle Paul ever taught or commanded the Gentiles to keep the Sabbath?” He felt he had delivered a telling blow—unanswerable, that would finally discredit me and what I preached once and for all! He was shocked at my answer.
“Yes sir, Mr. Belshaw!” I answered without any hesitation. “I certainly can! But before I do, I will now ask you a question: If I do show you where the Apostle Paul commanded the Gentile converts to keep the Sabbath, then that is irrefutable proof that you are commanded to keep it today. Now before I show you this command, I demand to know this: If I show where Paul commanded the Gentiles to keep the Sabbath, will you now give up your rebellion, and surrender to keep it also?” (ibid).
Mr. Belshaw would not surrender. He was exposed as a lawless rebel.
How does a person become so inspired and stirred like Mr. Armstrong, ready to take on any doubters? It all started at the prayer rock. He broke through to God. He wanted to represent God the right way, uphold His law, and help people understand that Christ died for our sins and was beaten savagely for our healing.
Mr. Armstrong was confronted with some of the biggest questions in the Bible and answered them beautifully. His history with the prayer rock is one of the most inspiring stories in this end time. Look at how God used that man because he went to the prayer rock for help and strength.
We have Mr. Armstrong’s formula. The work of the pcg is small. We are a little remnant, not a large corporation—but what we are capable of accomplishing is miraculous! Realize, though, that we have the impact we have only because we learned the lesson of the power of prayer from Mr. Armstrong!
God is not impressed by the person who says, “Well, what can I do? I’m just one person.” If you have a strong prayer life and you follow Mr. Armstrong’s formula, you can do amazing things!You can change the world! That is what God wants all of us to learn. We are here to teach all mankind about how to build a relationship with God!