The Philadelphia Church of God recently won the copyrights to 19 of Herbert Armstrong’s most important works. One of the copyrights won in that miracle victory was for the book The Incredible Human Potential. How well do we know the content of this book? And are we headed in the direction of fulfilling our incredible human potential?
“Our potential is to be born into the God family, receiving total power! We are to be given jurisdiction over the entire universe! …
“It will be an eternal life of accomplishment, constantly looking forward in super-joyous anticipation to new creative projects, and still looking back also on accomplishments with happiness and joy over what shall have been already accomplished.
“We shall never grow tired and weary. Always alive—full of joyous energy, vitality, exuberant life and strength and power!
“What a potential!” (The Incredible Human Potential).
God intends for you and I to serve in His family government as kings and priests (Revelation 5:9-10). We will have the wonderful opportunity to teach and serve all of mankind as we assist Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:4-6) in bringing joy and happiness to this Earth! Eventually, the entire universe will be placed under our care (Hebrews 2:6-8), and we will continue to spread God’s loving family government throughout the galaxies (Isaiah 9:6-7). To deepen your understanding of this mind-dazzling potential, request your own free copies of The Incredible Human Potential and The God Family Vision.
God truly is offering us an incredible future! However, God does expect to see something from us before we are placed into a position of such responsibility.
“But there was one super-important quality that even God’s creative powers could not create instantly by fiat—the same perfect, holy, righteous character inherent in both God and the Word!” Mr. Armstrong wrote.
“This kind of character must be developed, by the choice and the intent of the one in whom it comes to exist.
“So mark well this super-vital truism—that perfect, holy and righteous character is the supreme feat of accomplishment possible for Almighty God the Creator—it is also the means to His ultimate supreme purpose! His final objective! …
“Perfect, holy and righteous character is the ability in such separate entity to come to discern the true and right way from the false, to make voluntarily a full and unconditional surrender to God and His perfect way—to yield to be conquered by God—to determine, even against temptation or self-desire, to live and to do the right. And even then such holy character is the gift of God. It comes by yielding to God to instill His law (God’s right way of life) within the entity who so decides and wills.
“Actually, this perfect character comes only from God, as instilled within the entity of His creation, upon voluntary acquiescence, even after severe trial and test.
“I have devoted a few paragraphs to this point because it is the supreme pinnacle means in God’s overall purpose!” (ibid.).
Notice that God expects us to be producing character—to be growing, developing, changing and conquering. In fact, God expects us to put on His very character (Matthew 5:48; Philippians 2:5). Are you developing holy, righteous, godly character? Are you headed in the direction of fulfilling your incredible human potential? God is looking at the inner man, not at the outward appearance of the man (Matthew 23:25-26). He wants to see something in us of godly substance (Mark 7:6). God expects us to be keeping His law; developing His mind and character. God the Father and Jesus Christ are interested in real substance—real character.
“Look, now again at God’s overall supreme PURPOSE. It is to develop godly, perfect character in the millions of mankind who shall do this creative completion throughout the entire limitless physical universe!” (ibid.).
Let’s look closely at how we can put on that character God is looking for so we can be used in His family. It is a 24-hour, 7-day-per-week responsibility we all have.
1. Study God’s Word Daily
Daniel, a young man of great character, was one who studied books and studied God’s Word (Daniel 9:1-2). He studied what Jeremiah wrote about. He was used mightily by God and will again be used in God’s future Kingdom as he fulfills his incredible human potential.
The Apostle Paul also admonished his young assistant Timothy to follow this example. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We need to be able to give an answer when necessary (1 Peter 3:15) and appropriate—something we can’t do unless we are studying and are able to rightly divide the Word of truth.
The Bereans studied the Scriptures daily, and God considered them noble for doing so (Acts 17:11).
To the congregation in Jerusalem, Paul wrote, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14). We must use the Word of God to be able to discern between good and evil. Only by reason of use can we develop that discernment. We must study God’s Word on a daily basis if we are to make the right decisions that develop holy, righteous character in us.
2. Seek Daily Contact With God Through Prayer
Paul taught the first-century Christians that, regardless of their circumstances, it was imperative to remain in continual contact with God (Romans 12:12). The same is true for us. Are we really “continuing instant in prayer”?
We need to consider our reactions to problems and seek solutions. That can only be accomplished by constantly having contact with God through prayer. Take your problems to God, no matter where you are—at home, on the job, or while traveling. God will hear us even when we are praying a two-minute prayer. Seeking contact with our Father should be the first thing that comes to mind when we face a decision where we are unsure on how to act.
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). To pray without ceasing means to be consciously aware that God is there all the time. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (verse 18). We should be giving thanks to God in everything, acknowledging our abundance of blessings too numerable to list.
God expects us to pray. Christ Himself taught us this, stating, “When ye pray…,“ not if ye pray (Matthew 6:5; Luke 11:2). A steady and consistent contact with God is what is required. Without contact with our heavenly Father on a daily basis, it would be impossible for us to ever be instant in prayer. Prayer should be what starts our day, sustains our day and ends our day.
As we go through trials and tests, we rely on the power of God. We cannot rely on our own strength. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Through the death of Christ, we are reconciled. Then, through the power of God—the life of Christ in us—we can succeed and overcome.
“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (verse 16). The inward man must be renewed through contact with God day by day. We cannot skip a day! Disastrous things can happen if we are not staying close to God in daily prayer.
We should learn from the accounts of godly men, like David and Daniel; both prayed three times a day (Daniel 6:10, 13; Psalm 55:16-17). On multiple occasions God heard and delivered these men of character—because of the relationship they had built with their Father.
3. Have God’s Mind—Not a Carnal One
Romans 8:5-7 reads, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Here we see that taking on the mind of God requires obedience to God’s law.
It also requires humility.
A humble, teachable mind is open to instruction and correction, which helps us lay aside our carnal, selfish way of life. Humility is a prerequisite to obedience. We must be willing to act on God’s instructions—simply because He says so.
“God’s character travels in the direction of His law—the way of love. It is an outgoing concern for others. God has that character! He has an outgoing concern for you and for me. …
“God’s divine nature is the nature of love—of giving, serving, helping—of outgoing concern. It is also the nature of humility” (ibid. emphasis added).Two of the most important tools we can employ to help us grow in godly character are fasting and meditation. What better way to grow in humility than through fasting? What better to meditate on than God’s law?
David meditated on God’s law continually. God called him a man after His own heart. David was taking on the very character of God. We need to be turning to God’s Word to provide answers to all issues—and we will, if we are meditating on it, and putting on the mind of God.
“[T]o this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). God uses the man who is humble and trembles at His Word. A true servant of God doesn’t need the highest education from the most prestigious institutions on Earth. God isn’t interested in those possessing high IQs, as men tend to depend upon. Rather, He is looking for those who will put their entire trust in His law and His Word.
Only if we humble ourselves can God use us. It requires humility to allow God to give us the answers when we find ourselves in a trial—to allow Him to show us how to succeed in conquering the problem His way, not our own.
Philippians 2:3-8 sum up how we should be thinking in order to have the mind of God. We should have humility, esteeming others higher than ourselves. Do we really do this? Think about that. Meditate on it. Christ was humble and obedient. What a perfect example He is! We need to take on His mind, and rely on it—not on our own thoughts.
4. Engage in Christian Fellowship
Once we receive God’s Holy Spirit at baptism, we are spiritual embryos, and must be growing from that point—maturing—in order to be born. On the point of Christian development, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “This growth is the character development that requires time and comes largely by experience.
“Above all, it requires continual Bible study to show one’s self approved of God, as well as much continual and earnest prayer. When you study the Bible, God is talking to you. When you pray, you are talking to Him. You get to really know God in this manner, just as you become better acquainted with people by conversation.
“Yet much of this spiritual character development comes through Christian fellowship with other spiritually begotten people in God’s Church” (ibid.). A large part of growing in this spiritual character required to attain our potential involves fellowship with one another!
What is our social life like? Do we avoid our fellow brethren? Are we diligently assembling ourselves before God, as we are commanded, on His Sabbath and holy days? We cannot afford not to do that. We should not be missing Sabbath services or Bible studies. If we do, we miss out on a precious opportunity to grow in the character of God. We need to get together at every opportunity we have. We should be spending time together; arriving early at services and staying late. Christian fellowship is a wonderful tool to help us all grow and develop character.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). We need to inspire one another, encourage one another, persuade one another and move one another. We can certainly see the day of Christ’s return approaching, and we need to attend all the meetings God provides.
We also should be having other members over to our homes, and have meals together. We must be hospitable. It takes effort to clean your home and prepare meals for each other, but God expects us to be doing this. God expects us to be lovers of hospitality (Titus 1:8) and says we should be “given to hospitality” (1 Timothy 3:2). Are you given to hospitality?
There is a tremendous effect we can have on one another when we have Christian fellowship. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). When this is done in the right way, it is tremendously inspiring, uplifting and encouraging.
In the end time, there is a small group of people who thrive on Christian fellowship, because they know it produces godly character (Malachi 3:16-17). God speaks very highly of them, commends them for their fellowship—promising them special blessings.
5. Be DOERS of the Word
We can’t only hear the law of God by attending services every week, or read this magazine and see the Word of God explained before our eyes. God requires action! We must apply what God teaches us. “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13).
“Remember, God’s purpose in creating man is to reproduce Himself—with such perfect spiritual character as only God possesses—who will not and therefore cannot ever sin! (1 John 3:9).
“Such perfect spiritual and holy character cannot be created by fiat. It must be developed, and that requires time and experience.
“Such character—I repeat—is the ability in a single entity to come to comprehend and distinguish the true values from the false, the right way from the wrong, to choose the right and reject the wrong, and, with power of will, to DO the right and resist the evil” (ibid.).
Putting into practice that which we learn is extremely important if we are to grow in character.
Many people sat around listening to Mr. Armstrong week after week, but they forgot the words they had heard. They did not apply them. James wrote, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). It is by our works that we show our faith, and develop our Christian character.
6. Remember What You Were Taught
The example of ancient Israel teaches us that a carnal mind is prone to forget. In the end time we have an entire era to remind us of what happens when we forget. We cannot afford to be like that.
“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name” (Malachi 3:16). Mr. Flurry has pointed out that the book of Malachi revolves around two groups: those who remember and those who forget. Those who forget stop building character. If this doesn’t change fast enough, the flame will go out completely. The other group—the minority remnant—remembers. If they continue to remember and submit to God, they will eventually fulfill their incredible human potential. How inspiring that is!
“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” (Malachi 4:4). God is reminding those of us living in the Laodicean era to go back to our beginning and remember what we’ve been taught. Study the writings of Mr. Armstrong. Remember the beginning—your spiritual beginning.
“These are the Philadelphians who remembered. We are warned to remember what we were taught (Malachi 4:4-6). Many prophecies about the end time discuss a turning away from past instructions (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 15; Revelation 3:7-21). It is a book of remembrance because they remembered what they were taught! That is why God spares them from the Great Tribulation (Malachi 3:17; Matthew 24:21-22; Revelation 3:10) and gives them a headquarters position in His Kingdom forever.
“The Laodiceans fail to escape because they forget—and turn to a lukewarm message. God remembers the Philadelphian group because they remembered Him. …
“Are you in that book of remembrance? Anyone who is not is destined to go into the Great Tribulation. We must take this warning seriously” (Malachi’s Message).
7. Hold Fast!
You are called to be a pillar now and in the future. We should be immovable and unwavering, not allowing God’s truth to be taken from us (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We can only stand unwavering if we prove all things. This does not mean reading dissident literature. If you think that is proving all things, you are wrong. Dissident literature dangerously opens your mind to Satan’s influence. It had become a problem among the brethren in Thessalonica (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3). Instead of solidifying their foundation through edifying study, they tried to challenge and disprove what they were once taught. When you’ve been given God’s truth, God expects you to hold fast. If we are not holding fast, we become vulnerable to Satan’s deceit, and we will not fulfill our incredible human potential.
“So God warns us to hold fast to His past instructions. Our spiritual well-being depends on it! God warns us against neglecting “so great salvation,” which was conveyed to us by Christ (Hebrews 2:3). The saints in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 were turning away from God’s truth. They failed to hold fast. Paul gave them the solution to this problem, if only they had accepted it.
“If we fail to hold on to God’s past instructions, we will be easily deceived—as those Christians were” (ibid.).
Christ said that “[F]rom the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). We do have to be forceful people. This is military terminology. Vines Expository Dictionary says of this verse, “Those who take it by force are those who are possessed of eagerness and zeal instead of yielding to the opposition of religious foes.”
If we are going to be in God’s Kingdom, we must be violently resolute—righteously indignant at times. When someone starts spouting off false doctrine or heresy, when someone starts sending us dissident literature, it is not time for diplomacy. It is time to have a war-like mentality and hold fast. This is war—we are fighting against powers in high places that will destroy you if you allow them to.
The last warning God gives the Philadelphians is to “hold fast” (Revelation 3:10-12). He prophesied that people would come who would try to take the vision of your incredible potential away from you. You had better hold it fast, or else it will be taken away, God says.
Sometimes we stumble along the way in building character; but if that happens, we haven’t failed. “It is only the one who quits and gives up (Hebrews 10:38)—who rejects God, and God’s way, and rejects Christ as his Savior—who neglects or turns from this direction of God’s way, in his mind and heart (in his inner intent), who deliberately and intentionally in his mind—or, from continued neglect—turns from Christ—who is lost” (The Incredible Human Potential).
When you stumble along the way of trying to build character, get up and keep fighting. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. When you sin or make a mistake, don’t give up—don’t be depressed—don’t be discouraged. Take it seriously. Attack that sin, and move forward. Forget those things that are in the past. Rely upon the wonderful instructions given by God through the pen of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” We all need to grow in character. None of us is perfect. We all have to keep moving forward and reaching for that future goal—that incredible human potential. Press forward toward that goal.
As you prepare for the fall holy days, apply these seven points for character building so you can indeed put on holy, righteous, godly character and be ready for your incredible human potential when Christ returns to Earth!