THE OTHER DAY my personal assistant and Managing Editor of The PLAIN TRUTH, Arthur A. Ferdig, handed me a copy of a book that had exerted influence on my life as a young man many years ago — probably about 1910.
It was one of those "inspiration books" designed to inspire young men with ambition, desire to succeed, and confidence. This particular book was titled "He Can Who Thinks He Can". It was one of many such inspirational or "success" books authored by Orison Swett Harden.
It had occurred to me, about eight or ten years ago, that we ought to have that book in the Ambassador College library. As I remember, our library staff found that the book was out of print, and they searched the second-hand book stores until they found a copy.
Seeing a copy of it brought back memories. It seems that either there is no demand for such books today, or there are no authors with the inspiration and ability to write them. I am sure that this particular book contributed its portion of ambition, inspiration, confidence. Yet, reviewing it now, after more than 60 years, brings the realization that in all those years I have learned a few things I didn't know then.
The book has no preface — no introduction. It begins with Chapter 1: " 'I promised my God I would do it.' In September, 1862, when Lincoln issued the preliminary emancipation proclamation, the sublime act of the nineteenth century, he made this entry in his diary — ' I promised my God I would do it.' Does any one doubt that such a mighty resolution added power to this marvelous man; or that it nerved him to accomplish what he had undertaken?
Neither ridicule nor caricature — neither dread of enemies nor desertion of friends — could shake his indomitable faith in his ability to lead the nation through the greatest struggle in its history.
"Napoleon, Bismarck, and all other great achievers had colossal faith in themselves. It doubled, trebled, or even quadrupled the ordinary power of these men.... Without this sublime faith, this confidence in her mission, how could the simple country maiden, Jeanne d'Arc, have led and controlled the French army? This divine self-confidence multiplied her power a thousand-fold, until even the king obeyed her, and she led his stalwart troops as if they were children."
I suppose not one in many thousands would see anything but inspiration and right principle in such expressions as "his indomitable faith in his ability..." or "had colossal faith in themselves," or "This divine self-confidence." And that is only a start. The remainder of the chapter is filled with the rewards of self-confidence — confidence in SELF.
That is not to say that self-confidence does not increase results. That is the kind of confidence I was absorbing in those days. It did inspire. It did prod drive! It did inject perseverance. It did increase results.
But later in life, I learned of a far better, more resultful confidence.
I have mentioned a number of times that in the autumn of 1926 I was challenged on the theory of evolution. I was more or less familiar with the doctrine, but had never indulged in an in-depth research into the question of origins. This challenge drove me to that in-depth research.
So I delved thoroughly into the works of Darwin and his sponsors, Haeckel and Huxley, the works of Lyell before them, and Chamberlin and Vogt after them. This led to a study of the other claim for origins. I began to question the existence of God. I had been brought up to believe in God. But now I realized that I had grown up assuming God's existence — simply taking it for granted — but I had never seen PROOF.
So I entered into a study of Genesis and the whole Bible, to examine its claims for special creation and the existence of an all-powerful Creator. It became frankly evident that the dominant motive impelling many evolutionists to accept the theory was, in actual fact, their reluctance — or refusal — to believe in a God who bears authority over them. Human nature resents authority, though it loves to wield it.
I found no proof for the evolutionary theory, though I found much to disprove it. And I found that which, to me, was irrefutable scientific proof of the existence of the living God. But then I began to ask myself why had I experienced a sort of sense of shame — or embarrassment — in believing in God? How many experience that? Now, having found irrefutable PROOF, it seemed silly that one should feel any embarrassment in acknowledging a GREATER POWER — a greater MIND — who designed and brought into existence the human mind — MY mind! Should I not, rather, be grateful?
To my surprise, on looking intensively into it, I found the Bible a living NOW book. It is for TODAY. A third of it is prophecy, and 90% of that pertains to this 20th century and beyond.
Rational study of the Bible revealed a direct relationship between man and God. Man, it is biblically revealed, was formed and shaped in the likeness of GOD — not of animals. He was put here on earth to have a definite relationship to and with his Maker.
I began to learn of a dynamic, active NEW kind of confidence, infinitely superior to SELF-confidence. It is something God GIVES!
It is the confidence that is FAITH.
The God of the Bible therein PROMISES many things and benefits we humans ought to be receiving. Among them is guidance, bestowal of POWER — many things the living God will do for us.
I began to learn that there is something very practical in all this. I began to learn that, if I submitted my life to God's guidance, I was tapping a source of POWER millions of times greater than any resources within.
Oh, I was well aware that in most humans lie dormant abilities, powers and resources — latent talents that ought to be aroused, brought out and developed. I have mentioned, in my autobiography, the case of a former colleague and publisher with whom I was connected for several years — Clifford De Puy. His father died suddenly, leaving a quality magazine in the banking field, The Northwestern Banker, surprisingly heavily in debt.
Young Clifford, at that time about 28, inexperienced, took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and began putting those undeveloped latent abilities to work. His father's bank backed him, and in a few years he paid off the indebtedness and became a successful publisher.
But there is a GREATER source of power. There are multiplied greater resources.
So WHY NOT TAP BOTH?
Why not ignite that spark within, drive oneself on to develop his own abilities, and, at the same time, replace SELF-confidence with a living FAITH in the direction, inspiration, wisdom, and resources of dynamic supernatural POWER from above?
I decided, in the spring of 1927, to do just that! And worldwide enterprises affecting the lives of a hundred and fifty million people on all continents have resulted. Many thousands of lives have been CHANGED — turned right side up — made more successful — AND HAPPY!
I learned that there are the THREE DIMENSIONS — the within, the around, and the above.
Most people cheat themselves by utilizing only the first two. In their lives there are only these two dimensions on which to rely. Looking into the within is like looking into a well and finding it has gone dry. Relying on the within, they become self-centered. Their concern is primarily for self. So they become selfish. They develop greed, desire to have, to GET, to take, to accumulate. They measure success in terms of material accumulation. Toward others they are unconcerned,envious, jealous, suspicious. They live in a spirit of competition.
Their self-centered thinking results in constantly shrinking horizons. They may develop latent talents, arouse ambition for self-gain, develop their own inner powers and resources, but those resources are comparatively meager. They try to find happiness in material acquisition, but that is not the source of happiness.
Then, of course, there is the pull of human nature to CONFORM — to BELONG. So the dimension of the "around" fills a big part of their lives. But those around them are self-centered too, trying to get the best of them in every deal. They, too, center their affections on material acquisition. They constitute an unhappy world. They are bent on getting, and too often you find they are jealous, or envious, or resentful toward you. You find that their concern is for themselves, rather than for your welfare or happiness. You trust them, and too often find them untrustworthy.
There's not much in the way of resources to be found in the "around", but many disillusioning disappointments.
But what about the third dimension — the "above"? Could it be possible that most of humanity has been failing to tap the source of the greatest resources and meaningful, rewarding benefits?
Here is what I found revealed. In the first — the creation — chapter of the Bible, it is written that God formed cattle after the cattle kind, whales after the whale kind — that is the way God made them — the way He formed and shaped them. But verses 26 and 27 say He formed man after God's own image and likeness — man was MADE — formed, shaped, in the same form and shape as God.
However, the 7th verse of the 2nd chapter says He formed man of material substance —out of the ground — while in John 4:24 it is revealed that God is composed of immaterial SPIRIT.
But WHY was man formed and shaped like GOD, instead of like any of the lower animals? Because man was created for a PURPOSE — to have a personal and special relationship with God.
In the New Testament book of John, it is stated that Jesus gave to as many as received Him power to become the sons of God. And in I John 1:3 it is stated that all such actually have fellowship — actual contact and fellowship with God, and with Christ!
I found that the Bible is literally full of PROMISES from God, in which He PROMISES to do things for us, bestow things on us, give needed things to us. Notice just a few:
"But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). That does not promise to supply all your desires or wants — just your need. And it is well to realize that the Bible reveals that God does for us what we are unable to do for ourselves. Usually He will supply your need through your own efforts — but if you place CONFIDENCE in Him, He'll see that the need comes.
In James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering."
Very shortly after I learned this truth about the Bible, 45 years ago, I found in a time of embarrassment that I lacked wisdom. From a very young boy I had always craved to have UNDERSTANDING. And I had acquired a fair degree of that, but wisdom is more than knowledge and understanding. It is ability to use both, and come to a right and wise decision. So I took God up on this promise through the writing of James. I asked for wisdom. I believed I would be given wisdom, since God had PROMISED it, on my asking — and God could not break His promise. I received wisdom. In my position today, as the chief human administrator over large worldwide activities, I frequently have to make decisions involving millions of dollars. I NEED that wisdom!
Had I been forced to rely solely on the resources within, or on advice and counsel from the around, this great Work, I am sure, could never have developed. But I have had all three dimensions to tap. I most certainly do seek counsel from others. Solomon said that in a multitude of counsellors there is safety. So I call in counsellors. I use my own best judgment, based on experience. And in addition, I rely on wisdom from God. I utilize all three dimensions — and they make a great team. That's the safest way I know.
Just how GREAT are these resources from above? How GREAT is the living GOD?
The prophet Isaiah gives us some information on that. This is what God inspired him to write: "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
"Who hath directed the Spirit of the Eternal, or being His counsellor hath taught Him? With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and shewed to Him the way of understanding?
"Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket [compared to God], and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing.... All nations before Him are nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity.
"To whom then will ye liken God?"...
"It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.... Lift up your eyes on high, and behold Who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number....
"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Eternal, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, He increaseth strength ... they that wait upon the Eternal shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:12-15, 17-18, 22, 26, 28-31).
People often ask me why I stay young — and where do I get my energy? The above verses give me a promise — provide a source of resources which I rely on.
Yes, I found, 45 years ago, a far more practical and resultful confidence than self-confidence. I found the confidence that is FAITH. It is reliance on the supreme great God, whose greatness is described above. His resources are total. They are unlimited. The wealth and the resources of the entire universe are His. He is the SOURCE of all power, of all good, of all that is desirable.
He is not only the Great Creator. He is the supreme RULER of the universe. He is the Great Educator, the Source of basic knowledge. He is the Great GIVER! He gave His only begotten Son— for our redemption. He gives power and strength. He supplies all our needs. He gives wisdom. He has EVERYTHING to give that is GOOD.
My life has been tremendously enriched since I became connected to this Source of total supply, forty-five years ago. And this has led to the enrichment of untold other thousands.
What a stupendous value most of humanity is cheating itself out of, by failing to add the above dimension in their lives!
Here are some other resources that will help you in personal growth, success and overcoming that we offer:
For help in overcoming sin and bad habits, we recommend listening to this sermon by clicking on this link: 4 RULES OF OVERCOMING