Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
We are living in an age of new scientific and technological discoveries. The Bible even prophesied that this would occur, but it also recorded that a restoration of all the essential teachings of the Bible would again be given to the world at the end of the age. The prophets and apostles of the Bible spoke about a restitution of all things just before the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth (e.g. Acts 3:19-21). A part of this restoration will be a great outpouring of new knowledge about the prophecies and the messages of the Scriptures (Daniel 12:4,9). This fountain of knowledge is the initial phase of what Isaiah prophesied would one day happen. He said God would destroy the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil of blindness spread over all nations (Isaiah 25:7). That covering and veil represent the blindness in understanding biblical truths that God himself has placed over the eyes of many people. But there is presently beginning to occur a groundswell of scholarly and academic research throughout the world that will change this. The cumulative efforts of many scholars will soon result in a greater appreciation and dependence upon the reliability of the biblical records. This will involve discoveries made even by liberal and skeptical scholars who at the present have little appreciation for the teachings of the biblical records. Even in the scientific world, it will soon be seen that the Holy Scriptures actually contain essential "keys" that will unlock the physical secrets of the universe. These are secrets that have evaded the comprehension of scientists over the centuries.
Many of these prophetic indications were once understood in a philosophical (and even in a practical) sense by the ancients who lived in the first ages of the world. It is the recognition of these past discoveries (and the revelation of new secrets as well) that the Bible is speaking about when it says there will be a restitution of all things just before the Second Advent of Christ (again see Acts 3:19-21). What is wonderful is the fact that all of us can have a part in these new accomplishments. Those who help support the activities of the Associates for Scriptural Knowledge (and other similar organizations) can be personally involved in this worthy endeavor. All biblical truth will be revealed!
Let us now look at some of the discoveries that have already been made that are transforming the way historians, theologians and astronomers are understanding the biblical teachings. A whole new way of thinking about the Bible is now emerging, and in the next few years it is inevitable that many long-held traditional opinions will have to be changed by the major denominations concerning the teachings of that "good old book." All people in the world are going to be surprised at what the Bible has been saying all along that our eyes have been unable to fathom in an intellectual and meaningful way. This is because God has placed a spiritual covering and veil of divine blindness over our understanding of His word. Read very carefully Isaiah 29:9-24.
"Stay yourselves and wonder; cry you out and cry. They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord has poured out upon you [Israelites] the spirit of a deep sleep, and has closed your eyes. The prophets and your rulers, the seers has he covered [their eyes]. And the vision of all [doctrinal teaching] is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray you. And he says, I cannot for it is sealed. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray you. And he says, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is taught by the precept of men. Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder. For the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.... Your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as potter's clay [to be reworked and rebuilt].... And in that day shall the [spiritually] deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the [spiritually] blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.... They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine" (emphasis mine).
When will the beginning of this revitalization of knowledge and understanding occur? According to the final prophecy of Zechariah (chapters 12 to 14), it will happen in the generation just before the Kingdom of God is established on earth (see particularly Zechariah 12:10 to 13:6). This means, as the apostle Peter prophesied, that there will be a restitution (a restoration) of all things just before the Second Advent of Christ (Acts 3:19-21). God will remove the veil of spiritual blindness over peoples' eyes (which have prevented people from knowing Bible truths).
Even the kings of the earth will be amazed when they discover what the Bible has been saying all along. This will be especially evident when they grasp for the first time what actually happened to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12. That Suffering Servant was really Jesus Christ and he is the one that hardly any of us has actually known in the way the prophecies of the Scriptures have described him. "Kings shall shut their mouths [in astonishment] at him: for that which has not been told them [about Jesus Christ] shall they see; and that which they had not heard [about Jesus Christ] shall they consider [perceive clearly]" (Isaiah 52:15).
One of the new discoveries of the last twenty-five years is the exact day of Christ's birth (and to within a ninety minute period on that day). This information comes by the application of the laws of astronomy to the teaching of five verses in the Book of Revelation (12:1-5). It will be seen that Christ was born just after sundown on September 11th 3 B.C. on our Roman calendar. But on the Hebrew (Mosaic) calendar this was the first day of the seventh month and answers to the Mosaic feast day called Rosh Hashanah (or the Day of Trumpets) mentioned in Leviticus 23:23-25. This was a most significant day on the Hebrew calendar. It shows that Christ was born on a particular day of the year in order to fulfill numerous chronological prophecies. It can also be shown from astronomical and historical data that the Magi (the Wise Men) actually gave their gifts to the Christ child on December 25th in 2 B.C. (some fifteen months later). All of this information is given in my book "The Star that Astonished the World" obtainable from viewing the ASK Web Page.
There are other discoveries as well. Within the past eighteen years the place where Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected from the dead has been identified. The true location turns out to be in an area around Jerusalem that is diametrically opposite from the site which most Christians have adored for the past 1500 years. Biblical information, long overlooked by scholars (including myself for the first twenty years of my teaching career), is now so clearly revealed on this matter that one can be absolutely certain that Christ's crucifixion and resurrection occurred on the Mount of Olives. That Mount is about a mile long north to south, with the Temple opposite the southern part.
Not only that, it can now be shown that Christ was executed not on a Roman or Greek cross or an upright pole or the stock of a dead tree. He had his hands or wrists nailed to a board plank. That plank was then nailed to the bough of a living tree. There is even information in the Bible to show what kind of tree it was to which Christ was crucified and you will be amazed at its symbolic significance. Our traditional belief that Christ was crucified on a Roman or Greek cross did not get universal approval until the fourth century when a man by the name of Judas presented to the queen mother Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, some false crosses which had been buried on the grounds of the Temple of Venus in the western part of Jerusalem. And since that time, virtually everyone throughout the Christian world has accepted that erroneous type of "cross" that we presently find depicted on churches, hospitals and even embossed on Bibles. But early Christian records show that Christ was actually crucified on a living tree that had branches and leaves on it — similar to the Tree of Life in Eden. But there is even more astounding information concerning Christ's crucifixion. The Bible indicates that the two thieves who were crucified with Christ were suspended with him to the same tree! All three men were hanging from the branches of one tree back to back to each other. My book "Secrets of Golgotha" shows these truths.
Yet this is not all. There are even more surprises about the crucifixion of Christ when new archaeological information from the Dead Sea Scrolls is brought into play to explain the crucifixion. For example, we now know that after Christ was suspended to that tree, he was then stoned to death by volleys of small and sharp stones thrown at his face and body. Though no bones of his body were broken, the stoning he endured so tore his body to shreds that Isaiah in his prophecy about the Suffering Servant said "his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men" (Isaiah 52:14). There is even evidence from the Psalms that Christ was blinded during this time of the torment that he suffered (Psalm 38: 1-13).
New evidence also reveals that Christ was brought to trial and condemned by the Sanhedrin (the Jewish Supreme Court) in the very heart of the Temple itself. Also, it can be shown judicially that his trial was completely legal and his condemnation was according to Mosaic Law. There was no "mob scene" in the whole trial and in the judicial conviction of Christ. Even the final judgment of Pilate saying he should be crucified (when the crowd insisted on it) was done without violence or upheaval. All of this new evidence concerning the trial and crucifixion of Christ is found in my book: "Secrets of Golgotha" (or, "The Forgotten History of Christ's Crucifixion") that can be ordered from the ASK Web Page.
Let me now tell you about another book: "Restoring the Original Bible." This interesting book reveals what the early Hebrew/Syriac and Greek manuscripts show to be the true positioning of the divisions and books of the Bible. And believe me, when the early manuscripts are consulted (and all modern versions of the Bible ought to follow them), a whole new way of understanding the messages of the Bible comes on the scene. However, there is not a version or translation of the Bible being published today that follows the manuscript order of the divisions and books of the Old and the New Testaments. There needs to be a drastic revision within all Bible translations and versions (and that means all Bibles in existence no matter in what languages they have been published). Truly, there is not a Bible on sale today that follows the arrangement of the earliest manuscripts. All of the Bible Versions today adhere to the false arrangement authored by Jerome in the fifth century. The Bible has been literally "turned upside down." The world desperately needs a new translation and properly arranged Version. Thankfully, one is now being produced. It is being done by The Original Bible Project (OBP).
The scholarly group called The Original Bible Project [OBP] is a non-profit, IRS tax-exempt organization. Professor James D. Tabor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is the Chief Editor. Dr. Robert L. Kuhn is Chairman of the Board, and Robert D. Ellsworth is serving as business and promotion manager. The project is supported by the gifts of individuals and organizations. For more information write: The Original Bible Project, 408 South Pasadena Avenue, Suite 1, Pasadena, CA 91105. Telephone: 626-799-2000 or FAX 626-585-8180. Video and audio tapes and a regular newsletter are also available from this important organization. Write them for details. OBP is separate from ASK.
There are also other organizations doing a good work. One is Century One publishers who are producing the brand new Second Edition of book on theology: "The Essentials for New Testament Doctrine." It is completely re-type set and edited for up-to-date information. It is my most important book on the basic teachings of the Bible. Do not order this book yet. It will probably be in our hands from Century One book publishers in about two months’ time. The revision has been a long time in coming, but I think you will find the new version worth the wait.
Now for an important announcement involving a new research study that I know you will want to order. Next month I wish to offer a Doctrinal Report concerning the important subject that several of you have recently asked about. The topic is: "Christians and War." Is it wrong for Christians to serve in the armed forces of one’s country here on earth? What about "war" itself? Is it ever justifiable? Is it OK to maintain armed forces, if only for defense? All major questions involving this disputed subject are answered in this highly significant research. Everyone should read this Doctrinal Report. It will contain detailed information on this important subject that we are confronted with at this crucial time of the end.
In truth, the Associates for Scriptural Knowledge is here to serve you. We are not here to interfere in your life in any way. I would hope that we would all treat one another in a kind, considerate and law-abiding attitude. "Do unto others as you wish to be treated" is a maxim of our Lord that cannot be improved. In short, ASK is not interested in getting you into or out of any church. We believe that everyone should have the freedom to attend the church of his choice or to attend none at all if one so chooses and without condemnation. The reason that ASK was founded (and stays separate from denominational organizations in general) is because it is a simple fact that anyone working within the necessary administrational confines of any church group must subscribe to the traditional teachings of that denomination. Such restrictions are detrimental to free and open study and to the adoption of new understandings that God is beginning to reveal at this end-time. Without the encumbrances that are particularly evident in colleges, universities, seminaries or church administration, ASK is free to research and to publish anything no matter how controversial. It is amazing how many truths can be learned when researchers are free and unhampered by traditional beliefs and concepts. ASK is also a not-for-profit group recognized by the US government in which free will contributions to us are reckoned to be tax-free for all USA residents. We are thankful for this IRS ruling and we are fully qualified to receive such recognition because of the essential spiritual work that we perform for all.
The History of the Associates for Scriptural Knowledge
Since I am the one who founded ASK, I think it fitting to tell you a little about myself. I was born on April 20, 1932 in Meeker, Oklahoma (precisely at 7 A.M. Central Time Zone or for you who go by biblical time, it was 3 P.M. Jerusalem Time on Nisan 14 on the Hebrew calendar). My mother told me I was born precisely at 7 A.M. (the time bears little importance to me but I have had people insist that I tell them, so for those folks I mention it here). She said her remembrance of this precision was because my father had just come in from "milking the cows" in order for him to hear a newfangled radio news program broadcast from Oklahoma City (and besides, my birth certificate also states 7 A.M.). Almost four years later (after losing their farm to drought), my parents went to California during the Great Depression. We settled in the central valley between Exeter and Visalia. After normal grade and high school, I entered college to study meteorology. After one year of education (with an emphasis on studying the weather sciences), my professor thought I could best further my education in meteorology if I entered the United States Air Force to get some practical experience in weather. About two weeks after I enlisted, the Korean War broke out. The Air Force had long ago discharged most of their weather forecasters from the period of the Second World War and because I already had college training in meteorology they sent me to the University of New Mexico where I completed my studies and then began to forecast the weather. I spent a year above the Arctic Circle in Greenland, and then a year in high altitude research studies in Denver, Colorado. After being four years in the Air Force I was discharged to pursue my academic training. It was my intention at that time to get my doctorate and become a research scientist in meteorology.
But a major change occurred in my life during my last year in the Air Force. I heard a man on the radio preaching that the end of the world was going to occur by 1975. He got me interested in the Bible. That man was Herbert W. Armstrong. The thought came to me: Why continue in meteorology when the world is going to end in 1975? — a short 21 more years ahead of me? As a twenty-two year old man I decided to change my whole academic emphasis. I then took up a study in theology and history. And though Mr. Armstrong’s prophecies did not happen (as any professionally trained theologian understood they wouldn’t), my earlier resolution to devote my full time to biblical studies was the best professional decision I have ever made and I thank God for it.
Upon graduating from Ambassador College in Pasadena, California in 1958, my wife and I were sent to manage the office of the college in London, England. This gave me the opportunity to study extensively at the British Museum (and on location in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and various European countries). My specialty was in historical and biblical subjects of which our organization was interested. In 1959 Mr. Armstrong decided to open a college in England. My supervisor and I found a nice country estate just twenty miles north of the central part of London. It was bought. I then returned to Pasadena and received my master's degree in Theology in 1960. Afterward I went back to England to become Registrar of the new English college, professor of history/theology and secretary to the board of the college. In 1966 I once again was in Pasadena for my Ph.D. in Education. After this I returned to the English campus and was promoted to be Dean of Faculty. Then in 1968 I interested Mr. Armstrong in cooperating with Hebrew University in Jerusalem in a major archaeological excavation at the south wall of the Haram esh-Sharif. For five years my wife and my three children (two girls and a boy who were all born in England) spent two months of each summer at the excavation. For those five years I was in charge of our college's contingent of over 450 students (aggregately for the period of five years) who had come to Jerusalem from around the world to excavate at the archaeological dig. At that time it was also my responsibility to escort various college officials and other dignitaries on archaeological and historical tours throughout all areas of the Holy Land. I became as familiar with Israel as my home state of California and also of England (where I lived 14 years).
Then in 1972 I was appointed head of the Theology Department (with full tenure and Professor rank) at the college in Pasadena. I became responsible for all graduate studies in Theology and the supervision of the higher degree students. But in early 1974 I found that it was becoming impossible within the organization to teach freely what I thought to be the truth. Freedom of thought is difficult to express in well established organizations. But as long as I was being paid by Mr. Armstrong I thought it was my duty (as I conceived it then — and I still do) to be loyal in my college teaching to him who hired me to do a job. The honorable thing to do in 1974 (since I came to have many differences with the denomination) was voluntarily to leave my job and my membership in that church. Though I had tenure that secures salary for as long as there was a college (or university), I gave that up because I did not want to accept funds from an organization that depended on tithes for its operation. By then I knew that tithing was illegal for Christian organizations and that churches should not use tithes to fund their enterprises. My first booklet I wrote after leaving the Worldwide Church of God was on the wrongs of using tithing as a means to fund a Christian church or any religious organization. Over 100,000 copies of that book’s various editions were printed. It is still our best seller.
Since that time in January of 1974, I have never been a member of any denomination on earth, nor will I become a member. It is not that churches are bad (because many are worthwhile and many of them of the various denominations and sects do a lot of good). But if you are a member, you are restricted in teaching to their traditionalism and the pet doctrines that govern them. While being an active and valued member of a church, it is impossible to perform proper and independent research into new biblical and historical subjects. The powers that control the denominations simply won’t allow it. So, I left Ambassador College and helped to start the Foundation for Biblical Research in January, 1974. I was Chairman of the Board and President of that organization until 1984. While at FBR I produced well over one hundred research studies, a score of booklets and three major books (plus I recorded over 200 lectures on biblical subjects). When the Board of FBR erroneously decided in 1984 to teach that Christian folk went immediately to heaven at death (and not at the resurrection when Christ returns) which in no way does the Bible teach, and that there will be no millennium (though the Bible plainly teaches it in Revelation 20:1-5), and that reincarnation was a serious doctrine to consider, this was too much for me. In December 1984, I began ASK as an organization (an ekklesia of Christ) created to teach the biblical revelation.
One thing for certain, ASK holds fast to a cardinal principle. It is the fact that ASK is not interested in getting you into or out of a church now on earth. Our efforts are devoted solely to biblical and historical research so that you (or anyone else in the world) can be wisely trained to be a member of God’s spiritual congregation of His divine children. Any person of any race, creed, political persuasion or beliefs about the Bible (or even if people believe in other religious books) are welcome at our lectures and to receive our publications and view our Web Site. Though we have sincere beliefs on doctrinal, moral, ethical and social issues mentioned in the Bible, we do not force our beliefs on anyone. In our educational lectures, we simply ask that a peaceful and respectful assembly be maintained. We take no active interest in converting anyone to anything (that is God's job, not ours), but we do hope that from our publications and lectures all who study our works will come to respect the biblical revelation. This is our goal. People who support the activities of ASK are some of the finest friends and Christians that anyone would want to know. Our central desire is simply to exalt the Holy Scriptures and the doctrines that they teach. That is what we donate our time and money to accomplish. In short, we think that all who love the Bible will enjoy the work of ASK.
In closing this Newsletter for June, we should all remember one important point. Nothing is truly free in this world. Even the grace of God which He bestows on us freely and without cost, has been paid for by the ardent actions and sacrificial work of Christ Jesus when He lived and died for you (and the whole world) on the tree of crucifixion. It cost Christ His life. But for us at ASK, we can only give what has been paid for by other generous brethren who have their hearts in promoting the Word of God. It also costs us even to provide a single sheet of paper with scriptural teaching written on it. We need each of you to help support our activities of teaching the Gospel with your contributions. We would hope your contributions would be cheerfully given as a token of your love and respect to the Father and Christ for the great things they have done for you personally.
We need to share our faith with others (God even commands it). That is why we expect you to help support our work of teaching the Gospel in a thankful and a generous way. Don’t say "I paid my dues in my former denomination, and now we need ASK to shower on me and my family everything fancy free." Listen, I (Ernest L. Martin) paid my dues in the past too, but I do not live in the past. I live now to do the work of God now. We at ASK do our part (even frugally), but I expect you to do your part and to support ASK generously. On reflection, I wish to personally thank all of you who are faithful contributors (to whom my last comments do not apply because of your faithfulness in supporting ASK). I truly appreciate your continued contributions to the work. We trust that you will continue to be behind our efforts to teach the Gospel of Christ to the world. I want to commend all of you who are a real cadre of giving people out there (and not a bunch of free-loaders) who truly want to help us in what we consider to be a worthy cause for mankind. Thank you again, and God bless you.
Ernest L. Martin
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