Those who are associated with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society often have misconceptions in regards to the Society’s early years and history. Those who take the lead among the Jehovah’s Witnesses [the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses] have written about the years before 1925 as though there was a governing body in existence in those early years of the Society. While it is believed by many that a governing body did exist in 1918, in reality no governing body existed until recent years.
The Watchtower leaders have often presented distorted and sometimes outright false statements concerning the things taught by Charles Taze Russell and the early Watch Tower movement . The truth is that Charles Taze Russell never advocated such an organization that now exists as “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” After Russell’s death, “Judge” Joseph Franklin Rutherford usurped authority through legal trickery. He began to teach new ideas that took his followers farther and farther away from the Bible.
One of the greatest changes he effected was on the ransom. The teachings of The Watchtower and those of the earlier Zion’s Watch Tower are so different that they have been viewed as two different entities. The reader should note that when we refer to The Watchtower, we mean the modern-day publication produced by the leaders of “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” When we refer to Zion’s Watch Tower, we mean the publication that was being produced before “Judge” Rutherford invented a new organization called “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
We will now proceed with examining how the two different doctrines concerning the ransom has led the modern-day Watchtower leaders into self-contradiction.
According to the modern-day Watchtower leaders, Messiah “came to inspect his slaves in 1918.” (The Watchtower, March 15, 1990, page 13) According to this same Watchtower:
“Well, by then , who had given sincere truth-seekers the correct understanding of the ransom sacrifice….?”
The answer given is:
“The facts show that it was the group of anointed Christians associated with the publishers of the magazine Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald Christ’s Presence…”
(The reader should note that in 1918 there was no “Jehovah’s Witness” organization.) If Zion’s Watch Tower was printing the truth about the ransom-sacrifice in 1918, then what the modern-day Watchtower is teaching cannot possibly be true. Let us show what we mean.
What is the teaching of The Watchtower of today concerning the ransom-sacrifice? The March 15, 1990 Watchtower answers:
“Jesus came ‘to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.’ (Mark 10:45) But who are the many? Adam is evidently excluded because he was a perfect man who deliberately chose to disobey God and died an unrepentant, willful sinner.”
The article goes on to say:
“The course taken by each individual determines whether he will benefit from Jesus’ sacrifice. Like Adam, the willfully wicked do not have the ransom merit and eternal life forced upon them. As Christ said: `He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.’ (John 3:36)”
Thus The Watchtower of today would make all who disobey the Watchtower leaders [who supposedly represent Jesus] in this life as willfully wicked, and receiving no benefit from the ransom. (This disregards John 12:46-48, which shows that those who disobey Jesus today will be judged in the resurrection day. In this life, the wrath, inherited from Adam, simply remains upon him.) Likewise, according to the present-day Watchtower leaders, Adam would receive no benefit from the ransom.
Now compare this with Zion’s Watch Tower of 1918 (August 15, 1918):
“When this ransom price shall have been formally delivered over to Justice in the end of this Gospel age, then, it will … have been exchanged for Adam and his posterity, the world of mankind, all of whom will be immediately transferred by the Father to the Son, that the work of the Millennial Kingdom may begin. The ransom price is designed to bring to Adam and his race the earthly life and the earthly life-rights and honors which were lost in Eden through disobedience.” (See Reprints, page 6314)
Again in Zion’s Watch Tower of October 1, 1918 (Reprints, page 6337), we find this statement:
“As in the one man Jesus Christ both Adam and all his children will be justified from the original condemnation, that which came upon the human race because of Adam’s disobedience.”
Please note that in the two quotes above, from the early Zion’s Watch Tower in 1918 that the ransom is presented quite differently from that in 1990. In 1918 Adam and all his posterity are to benefit from the ransom. In 1990, according to present-day Watchtower leaders, Adam will receive no benefit from the ransom, nor will many billions of mankind living today that might be destroyed during the destruction of Satan’s world.
A little reflection on the above should lead one to see that if Zion’s Watch Tower was teaching the truth concerning the ransom in 1918, then what The Watchtower of today is teaching is false, for they do not teach the same thing. Of course, just because the whole world receives benefits from the ransom of Jesus does not mean that “everlasting life” will be “forced” upon them. It only means that they will be given full opportunity to come into harmony with Jehovah and His Son, Jesus. Those of the world who then refuse will eventually be eternally destroyed in the second death at the end of the 1,000-Year Reign of Jesus, when the Kingdom is returned to the Father. (Revelation 20:7-9; Psalm 37:9,10; Matthew 25:41,46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9,10; 1 Corinthians 15:24) With Zion’s Watch Tower of 1918 we are general in agreement on this; therefore we are in disagreement with The Watchtower of modern times which would deny that Jesus gave his life as “a ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:5,6) It is this “ransom for all” teaching that will actually vindicate Jehovah as not only the rightful ruler, but that his ways are best in all things. It is only through the “ransom for all” that all the wicked will come to know Jehovah. Psalm 83:18; Compare Ezekiel 16:62,63.
We must, in all honesty, state that The Watchtower today does believe that millions of the unsaved dead will be awakened in the resurrection day and given opportunity to obey Jesus during the millennial kingdom. (See The Watchtower, March 15, 1990, page 31) In this we see an inconsistency of logic, however. On page 4 of the March 15, 1990 Watchtower we read:
“When Adam sinned, he lost everlasting perfect human life, with all rights and prospects. Hence, the same thing was redeemed by means of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.”
How anyone could make this statement and then turn around and deny its clear meaning is beyond logic. If Adam’s “everlasting perfect human life” was redeemed by the ransom, then it would clearly mean that Adam would be released from sin’s condemnation of death. To reason otherwise would destroy the entire principle of the ransom.
The claim is made that Adam did not repent. The Scriptures nowhere state this. We are not informed as to whether he did or did not repent. There are some reasons to believe that he did have a change of heart. But Jehovah did not offer to him any deliverance based upon his repentance. Rather, another method of deliverance was vaguely suggested when Jehovah stated to the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head, and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Genesis 3:15) How much better are the ways of Jehovah than the reasoning of man!